Monday, March 20, 2006

What Compensation To Pay To Our Shooting Victim?

I had been waiting for the news clutter to clear for a bit before posting on the shooting of an Afghanistani taxi driver by Canadian soldiers. Initially, when I read of the shooting, my first thought was that it was the car driver's fault. Canadian soldiers are well trained, they do not start shooting just like that, and the 'locals' should know better. However, after reading a bit more on the shooting incidents in Afghanistan, I have been forced to change my mind on a few issues.

First, I read that upwards of 90 per cent of the Afghan population is illiterate. As such, they would not read newspapers where the Canadians have taken out advertisements on how to deal with military vehicles. There are many dialects of the local languages, and the Canadians speak English. Would they be able to adequately convey, in time to a speeding vehicle, on how to stop at a safe distance?

Second, soldiers make mistakes. It must be remembered that Canadian soldiers were fired at by American soldiers in Afghanistan last year. Presumably our soldiers were well aware of the rules of engagement and the need to maintain a safe distance from a NATO military vehicle. As an aside I find it surprising that the Americans would fire at another NATO vehicle.

Third, now there is the talk of compensation. The family of the Afghan man shot has asked to be transferred to Canada. He is reputedly the bread-winner for 15 family members. Knowing the setup of a traditional poor rural South Asian family, that may well be true. The talk of compensation and smoothing of ruffled feathers is important - for there have been at least 11 incidents involving Canadian convoys and patrols where shots were fired when the public came too close, although this was the first to result in a fatality. There could be more fatalities in the future.

I believe the immediate compensation should be as follows - we should find out how much this man earned per month, and pay that amount (minimum) to the family every month. Afghanistan follows 'Sharia' law, which specifies 'blood money' in case of accidental death. We should pay the family that blood money as well. Should we let them come to Canada? That is a decision for the Immigration Minister to decide. It is easy at this moment to criticize the family for being greedy (which I initially thought of doing), but none of us have lost our fathers to a foreign soldier's gun.

Finally, we should do a thorough investigation of this incident, and punish the soldier (court martial, demotion) if he is indeed found guilty of acting in a hasty manner (which I doubt - I still trust Canadian soldiers and their training). Nevertheless, an innocent civilian has been shot dead. Further review of this incident should take place to minimize such tragedies in the future. I was happy to see most of our media, while supporting our troops and their mission, not shying away from exploring the personal anguish of the unfortunate Afghan family.

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3 comments:

decoin said...

All Afghans who are shot - their extended families should immediately be flown to Canada to become permanent residents and paid substantial amounts of money. U.S. military transport can be leased for this purpose since Canada does have the equipment. In this way Canadians can see the war crimes they are collectively committing in Afghanistan. All Canadians should be forced to leave Afghanistan immediately. It is an extremely backward country and should be left entirely to its own devices. Not one canadian life should be expended trying to help these people.

Anonymous said...

You know "decoin" I have read several of your posts and you scare the hell out of me. I am a regular visitor to the Liberal blogs and partake in a dialogue with many even though I disagree with their viewpoint. That's democracy. But you are so far left (even the NDP would not allow you to join their party) that your views, luckily, only make up about 1% of the population, if that. Sure, lets bring all the Afghans into Canada and make sure that a lot of Taliban join them. Then they can get together with the 30,000 terrorists that the Liberals let into Canada that we can't find. We can start our own Taliban group. Group hug everybody.

Alex said...

"Second, soldiers make mistakes. It must be remembered that Canadian soldiers were fired at by American soldiers in Afghanistan last year. Presumably our soldiers were well aware of the rules of engagement and the need to maintain a safe distance from a NATO military vehicle. As an aside I find it surprising that the Americans would fire at another NATO vehicle."

You remember wrong. Canadian diplomats driving around in civilian vehicles were fired on by the Yanks. Canadian convoys have never come under fire from the Americans. Although we did have to have a little to talk to them about just how rude it is to track an allied vehicle with your turret. They learned fast.

"Finally, we should do a thorough investigation of this incident, and punish the soldier (court martial, demotion) if he is indeed found guilty of acting in a hasty manner (which I doubt - I still trust Canadian soldiers and their training)."

We always conduct an investigation into any such incident, and ROE's, training, and doctrine are constantly changing to make us better able to descriminate between legitemate targets and noncombatants. Keep in mind that Canadian doctrine, up untill the invasion of Afghanistan, was to clear a room by throwing in a granade, and then spraying the place on full-auto. The doctrine of all NATO countries has had to change drastically since 2001.

"Nevertheless, an innocent civilian has been shot dead. Further review of this incident should take place to minimize such tragedies in the future. I was happy to see most of our media, while supporting our troops and their mission, not shying away from exploring the personal anguish of the unfortunate Afghan family."

Civilian deaths are regrettable, but when they occur they are mostly unavoidable. I feel as much sympathy for the family of the man as anyone else, but they should receive only minimal compensation.