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Canada puts U.S., Israel on torture watchlist

By Reuters

18/01/08 -- O
TTAWA, Jan 17 (Reuters) - An official Canadian government document has put both the United States and Israel on a watch list of countries where prisoners run the risk of being tortured, CTV television reported on Thursday.

The revelation is likely to embarrass the minority Conservative government, which is a staunch U.S. ally.

The document mentions the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba where a Canadian man is being held.

CTV said the document was part of a course on torture awareness given to Canadian diplomats to help them determine whether prisoners they visited abroad had been mistreated.

It said the document mentioned U.S. interrogation techniques such as "forced nudity, isolation, and sleep deprivation."

Other countries on the watch list include Syria, China, Iran and Afghanistan, CTV said.

A spokesman for Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier tried to distance Ottawa from the document.

"The training manual is not a policy document and does not reflect the views or policies of this government," he said.

The mention of Guantanamo Bay is particularly sensitive, since the Canadian government rejects allegations that a citizen may have been mistreated there.

Omar Khadr has been in the facility for five years. He is accused of killing a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan in 2002, when he was 15.

Right groups say Khadr should be repatriated to Canada, an idea that Ottawa firmly rejects.

A spokeswoman at the U.S. embassy said she was looking into the report. No one was immediately available for comment at the Israeli embassy.

The torture awareness course started after Ottawa was strongly criticised for the way it handled the case of Canadian engineer Maher Arar, who was deported from the United States to Syria in 2002.

Arar says he was tortured repeatedly during the year he spent in Damascus prisons. An inquiry into the case revealed that Canadian diplomats had not received any formal training into detecting whether detainees had been abused. (Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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