The Toronto Star today carries a disturbing report that Canadian soldiers have been ordered to ignore sexual assaults against civilians committed by Afghan soldiers.
Given that our troops are allied with Afghan forces, would this not appear to constitute a deliberate omission as defined in Canada's Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act (2000) and as incorporated by reference in the Criminal Code (Section 183 [e] 1)?
The former defines a "crime against humanity" as follows:
"crime against humanity" means murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, torture, sexual violence, persecution or any other inhumane act or omission that is committed against any civilian population or any identifiable group and that, at the time and in the place of its commission, constitutes a crime against humanity according to customary international law or conventional international law or by virtue of its being criminal according to the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations, whether or not it constitutes a contravention of the law in force at the time and in the place of its commission. [emphases added]
It wasn't a great day for Canada when it turned out that we were routinely handing prisoners over to the Afghan authorities to be tortured. Now we have this dreadful revelation of passive complicity in sexual assaults on Afghan civilians by allied soldiers. If the Star report holds water, an immediate investigation has to be held without delay, and the guilty brought to justice. This isn't simply a Canadian matter. It's an international obligation.
There are times, particularly under our hawkish Harper government, that I have felt ashamed to be a Canadian. Today, I simply feel horrified. Have we really come to this? And if so, where do we go from here?
H/t Mound of Sound
UPDATE: (June 18) General Rick Hillier calls for intervention by our troops.