The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.” ~Nuremberg Principle IV
Minister of Torture and Surveillance Vic Toews is at it again.
Under a little-noticed Bill now awaiting third reading in the House of Commons, one with the suitably Orwellian title of the Enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act, RCMP officers will be legally obliged to follow orders that contravene domestic and international law against torture.
Members of the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada (MPPAC) have raised a number of issues about the legislation and its provisions tied to national security. One states that an RCMP officer is “not entitled to present a grievance relating to any action taken under any instruction, direction or regulation given or made by or on behalf of the Government of Canada in the interest of the safety or security of Canada or any state allied or associated with Canada”.
Another section mandates that “an order made by the Governor in Council is conclusive proof of the matters stated in the order in relation to the giving or making of an instruction, direction or regulation by or on behalf of the Government of Canada.”
I had to read that last graf twice. In essence, the Bill will make it an offence for an RCMP officer to question an order that requires him or her to break the law. This may be the first time in history, incidentally, that Canadian legislation will explicitly define truth as “what the boss says is true, end of discussion.”
In November this year, Surrey RCMP officer Lloyd Pinsent circulated a paper he wrote with the provocative title “The Terrorists Have Won. RCMP Ordered to Accept Torture-Tainted Information”.
Pinsent’s paper cites Bill C-42 and a CBC report citing a Canadian Press story indicating that Public Safety Minister Vic Toews had directed the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency to use and share information that may have been obtained through torture. This order follows a similar directive issued in 2011 to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
“While the direction from Minister Toews is in contravention of existing Canadian and international law, under [Bill C-42’s] section 31.(1.4) the order is to be viewed as conclusive proof and questions about the legitimacy of the order are not allowed either,” writes Pinsent, a member of the MPPAC executive in B.C.
The Surrey RCMP constable also notes that although use of information produced through torture violates Canadian and international law, Bill C-42 lays out the sanctions for those who question this practice, including dismissal.
National MPPAC spokesperson Rob Creasser notes:
It places RCMP members in an untenable situation where they’re being directed, it would seem, to break Canadian and international law….And if they complained about it, the new bill, C-42…will also hold them in jeopardy if they voice those concerns publicly, because there’s a provision in that bill where you could be sanctioned for speaking out.
Harper’s Canada: where torture inches forward as an official instrument of government policy, and the dead and stinking Nuremburg defence is about to be dressed in brand-new clothes.
[H/t My Pet Gloat]