The ongoing saga of Omar Khadr continues since Prime Minister Stephen Harper refused to obey a court order which demanded that Canada ensure the release of the young man from the prison at Guanatanamo Bay. Federal Court Justice James O’Reilly said Canada had denied the Toronto born Khadr his constitutional rights to a fair trial as well as violating international law protecting children captured in an armed conflict. Khar was a teenager when captured by American soldiers in Afghanistan. O’Reilly emphasized that “Canada had a duty to protect Mr. Khadr from being subjected to any torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” The prime minister told Parliament he would continue looking into the matter but refused to take any positive action.
A nation does not get to pick and choose which of its citizens it will protect. Khadr was a fifteen year old boy when captured in 2002 and he has now been in prison for seven years. Judge O’Reilly pointed out that America flouted international law by not providing “special status as a minor” when they captured the young boy. This is simply another sad story in the ongoing saga of Bush’s violation of international law.
The Candian Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Canadian agents acted illegally when they interrogated Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr and then handed over that intelligence to U.S. authorities. The court ordered the Canadian government to hand over documents pertaining to those 2003 interrogations by agents of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service since the entire process was contrary to international law. The decision was a blow to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government which has loyally supported the US war crimes prosecution of Khadr despite mounting domestic and international pressure about the illegality of the entire process.
Khadr’s lawyer, Nathan Whittlng told reporters: “Our hope at this point is that the Canadian government will read the decision and recognize what everyone else knows, that the system in Guantanamo Bay is contrary to international law, that Omar’s rights have been seriously violated.”
The Canadian court, in supporting its decision, cited US Supreme Court rulings that indefinite detention of foreign terrorism suspects nd the Pentagon’s first war crime trials were illegal. ormer Liberal justice minister Irwin Cotler commented: There can be no clearer indictment of the Guantanamo Bay process and Canada’s aquiescence in it. It is clearly unfair, illegal, and ultimately politicized procvess masking itself undere th cover of the rule of law.”
The United States government paid Pakistan a bounty of $500,000 for the 2004 capture of Canadian Abddullah Khadr according to information released by a Canadian court. The court made note the Canadian government knew about this shortly after the bounty was paid. Khadr’s lawyer, Nate Whiting, said: “The secret payment of this bounty is another illustration of the U.S.’s notorious practice of ‘outsourcing torture’ including the torture of Canadians like Abduallah Khadr and Maher Arar.” The Canadian lawyer stated bluntly: “Rather than dirtying its own hands, the U.S. simply paid the Musharraf regime $500,000 to arrest Mr. Khadri, knowing full well what they would do to him. The U.S. then did its best to hide this secret agreement from the Canadian judge hearing Mr. Khadr’s case.”
Whiting pointed out after the bounty was paid th U.S. State Department reported that Pakistan “tortured and abused persons, often to elicit confessions.” Khadr’s lawyer intends to argue that any confession signed by his client was obtained as a result of torture by Pakistan interrogators. Justice Richard Mosley made clear to his own government the documents would be released whether they liked it or not since there was no harm to Canadian interests by revealing the truth.
Each year the US State Department releases lists of nations that torture and abuse people. Apparently, State Department officials rarely bother to examine their own lists before allowing torturing nations to gain control of people.
The American defense attorney, Lt. Comdr. Bill Kuebler, told members of the Canadian parliament that Omar Khadr will be convicted if he goes to trial in Guanatanamo, not because he is guilty, but due to a stacked trial system which ensures convictions rather than justice for defendants. “Omar’s story is one of victimization by everyone who has ever had authority over him and punishment for misdeeds of others. It is not a question of giving this young man a second chance. He has never had a first one. The only blessing he’s had is being born in Canada and this country now represents his only hope.” The Pentagon alleges Khadr threw a grenade that fatally wounded U.S. Sgt. Christopher Speer, although recently disclosed documents question his culpability
Omar is being damaged by statements from relatives who admire al-Qaida and have attacked Canada. His father is allegedly a financial supporter of al-Qiada, but the evidence against the Kahdr(who was fifteen at the time of the alleged attack) is flimsy.
The real hero in this case is Bill Kuebler, who most probably has destroyed his career in the Navy as a result of defending his client in the manner expected of lawyers. To defend a client all-out is the not goal of the Guantanamo trial system.