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How people disappear

Major David Pratt

Major David Pratt

How people disappear

Yesterday Major David Pratt, RACMP was convicted on two counts of falsifying records in Afghanistan. What he did made it appear a detainee had been held for an allowable period when in fact he was held longer. Major Pratt was acquitted of a charge of suppressing a detainee’s complaint of abuse by his captors.

On the face of it, that sounds pretty small potatoes. And maybe in this case it was – and maybe not. But there is a tremendous slippery slope here. If we start with the small fibs, where do we stop? These are real people’s lives in the balance. How many steps is it from holding someone a few hours or a few days extra to disappearing people to secret prisons in countries with torture-friendly laws? Or abusing them ourselves? And how far down the slope are we already, handing over prisoners to the Afghan security services, when we know that is a death sentence…and not a quick one? (If that shocks you, Herald suggests you ask any Afghan civilian to speak with the NDS and observe his or her terrified expression.)

So the small steps matter.

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