2016 05 - 28 Omar

Justice Minister please fulfill Canada’s long overdue obligation to Omar Khadr


Dear friends of Omar,

Shortly after the 2015 federal election when Vancouver M.P. Jody Wilson-Raybould was appointed as Minister for Justice, she received a mandate letter from Prime Minister Trudeau outlining her responsibilities as Justice Minister and Attorney General.

“…You are expected to ensure our legislation meets the highest standards of equity, fairness and respect for the rule of law…that the rights of Canadians are protected, that our work demonstrates the greatest possible commitment to respecting the Charter of Rights and Freedoms…”

Free Omar is focusing for the next weeks on our goal – to get 1000 messages to the Justice Minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould – to remind her on her responsibility.

We need your help.

A simple message like this is fine: “Please fulfill Canada’s long overdue obligation to Omar Khadr by providing compensation and apologising for the abuse he suffered”.

Or copy and paste from our Template Letter or the article 30 Ways the Canadian Government Failed Omar.

Thank you for your support!

The Free Omar Campaign


It would be very helpful if you could c.c or b.c.c. us in the email or “like” this message on our Facebook page when you contact the minister, so we will be able to keep track!


Template Letter

Dear Minister Wilson-Raybould:

For 14 years, Canada allowed grave violations of Omar Khadr’s fundamental rights. We not only abandoned him as a child but allowed him to suffer a decade of torture and abuse in Guantanamo before his long-delayed repatriation.

  • The U.S. Supreme Court (2006) ruled that the U.S. Pentagon military commissions which “charged” and “sentenced” Omar were unconstitutional;
  • The Federal Court ruled (2005) that Canadian agencies (including CSIS) had violated Omar’s Charter rights by turning information obtained by torture over to his U.S. captors to be used against him in his “trial”
  • The Supreme Court of Canada (2008) ruled that the conduct of Canadian interrogators violated Omar’s fundamental human rights, the Canadian Charter of Rights and principles of fundamental justice.

Despite these rulings, since Omar’s release on bail from a Canadian prison almost 3 years ago, we have continued to abandoned him and deny him justice.

We call on you Minister Wilson-Raybould to offer a long-overdue apology to Omar and finally award him compensation for Canada’s shocking dereliction of responsibility.

Contact the Minister:
The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H8

Email: mcu@justice.gc.ca

If you are in Vancouver, you can drop in to her office for a visit!

Suite # 104
1245 West Broadway
Vancouver, British Columbia
V6H 1G7

 


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30 ways the Canadian government failed Omar Khadr

As a start of 2017 Free Omar would like to refresh your memory on the following facts. This article was written by Free Omar member and writer Kathleen Copps – for Recoched -in honor of Omar’s 30th birthday (September 19, 2016).


Omar Khadr turns 30 years old today. Released on bail in May 2015, he still faces limitations to his freedom and legal challenges ahead. Canadians must not be complacent about our obligation to him. For 14 years, we allowed grave violations of his fundamental rights, including torture and abuse when he was a child. Our individual liberties and equality before the law depend on the universal enforcement of rights, and remedy for rights that have been violated. On Omar’s 30th birthday, we must acknowledge all the ways Canada failed him.

  1. The Canadian government denied Omar the right to due process, freedom from arbitrary detention, presumption of innocence, the right to a fair trial, habeas corpus and all other fundamental legal rights.
  2. The Canadian government violated Omar’s Charter and international human rights by allowing his torture.
  3. The Canadian government violated international treaties and conventions (Geneva Conventions, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention against Torture, and the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict). Because Omar was a juvenile at the time of his capture, he should have been immediately returned to Canada, provided all appropriate care for medical issues, and ensured prompt determination of his case according to international standards of juvenile justice.
  4. The Canadian government, throughout the decade of Omar’s Guantánamo imprisonment (2002-2012) and after his repatriation (September 2012), allowed high-ranking government officials to issue vilifying statements that misled the Canadian public regarding essential details of the case. For example, Vic Toews, the former minister for public safety, held a press conference to announce Omar’s return to Canada and stated, “Early this morning, convicted terrorist Omar Khadr was transferred to Canadian authorities. Omar Khadr is a known supporter of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network and a convicted terrorist.”
  5. The Canadian government, throughout the decade of Omar’s Guantánamo incarceration and after his repatriation, allowed high-ranking government officials to interfere in the judicial process. For example, then prime minister Stephen Harper held a press conference the morning of Omar’s first appearance in a Canadian court (Sept. 23, 2013) and stated, “This is an individual who, as you know, pled guilty to very serious crimes including murder and it is very important that we continue to vigorously defend against any attempts, in court, to lessen his punishment for these heinous acts.”
  6. The Canadian government has failed to settle a 2004 civil suit seeking to compensate Omar for the violation of his rights, a violation acknowledged by the Supreme Court, and for the complicity of the Canadian government in his torture and mistreatment.
  7. The Canadian government appealed, unsuccessfully, all legal decisions obtained by Omar’s lawyers including rulings by the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, the Alberta Court of Appeal, the Federal Court of Canada, the Federal Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada.
  8. The Canadian government spent public funds challenging every court decision favourable to Omar, which resulted in millions of dollars wasted at the expense of Canadian taxpayers.
  9. The Canadian government ignored the July 2012 recommendation of the UN Committee against Torture to “ensure that [Omar Khadr] receives appropriate redress for the human rights violations that the Canadian Supreme Court has ruled he experienced.” In 2015, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group reviewed Canada’s performance regarding its obligations under the Convention against Torture and stated that the government had contravened every aspect of its duties in this case, and its failure to prevent, investigate, and punish his torture and ill treatment constitutes a continuing violation of Omar’s rights.
  10. Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group found that throughout Omar’s 14-year imprisonment, Canada had failed to provide Omar with legal aid or any other resources to allow him to be fully represented as required by the UN Committee against Torture. (Omar’s dedicated legal team has worked on a pro bono basis throughout the entire legal odyssey).
  11. The Canadian government allowed Omar, while in custody, to be subjected to isolation, solitary confinement, denial of access to education materials, denial of opportunity to write exams, denial of timely medical attention and treatment (which might have saved his eyesight and effectively treated a serious shoulder wound), and denial of contact with his family. (Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, detained children have the right to maintain contact with their family through correspondence and visits.)
  12. The Canadian government failed to establish a prompt investigation of Omar’s treatment at Guantánamo Bay and Bagram prisons, despite overwhelming evidence from a variety of sources showing the use of torture and other treatment prohibited by the UN Committee against Torture.
  13. The Canadian government failed to ensure Omar received a competent medical examination, focused on past torture and ill treatment, and failed to obtain a statement of opinion on such medical findings.
  14. The Canadian government failed to provide any assistance to Omar in order to prevent potential psychological conditions deriving from the torture he experienced.
  15. The Canadian government failed to implement programs for the treatment of physical and psychological trauma, and other types of rehabilitation provided to victims of torture and ill-treatment.
  16. The Canadian government has failed to ensure appropriate redress for the human rights violations that Omar suffered.
  17. The Canadian government has refused to consider awarding Omar compensation as required by the UN Committee against Torture.
  18. The Canadian government has failed to take measures and to prevent public authorities and other persons from participating or being complicit in acts of torture as defined in the Convention Against Torture.
  19. The Canadian government has failed to investigate, determine, and punish Canadian officials for participation in the torture and ill treatment of Omar as confirmed by the Federal Court, the Federal Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court of Canada.
  20. The Canadian government has failed to investigate and punish Canadian officials and others involved in subjecting Omar, while imprisoned at Bagram and Guantánamo Bay, to torture and treatment prohibited by the UN Committee against Torture.
  21. The Canadian government has continued to wrongly inform the public that Omar had been convicted of serious offences and was therefore reasonably designated as a terrorist and a threat to national security.
  22. The Canadian government has failed to establish an independent judicial body to determine the right to, and award redress to Omar for torture and ill treatment in Bagram and Guantánamo Bay prisons to which Canadian officials contributed through action or inaction.
  23. The Canadian government supported or acquiesced to the use of information obtained by torture in Omar’s sentencing by the Guantánamo Bay Military Tribunal.
  24. The Canadian government failed to adopt policies to ensure that confessions obtained under torture or ill treatment are not admitted in court proceedings and that judgments made by courts admitting such evidence will not be enforced within Canada.
  25. The Canadian government did not oppose Omar’s sentencing by the Guantánamo Bay Military Tribunal, and even supported it. Because it was not a properly constituted court, imposing the sentence violated the four Geneva Conventions and the Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Act.
  26. The Canadian government insisted that Omar serve the balance of the illegal Guantánamo Bay Military Tribunal sentence. The sentence itself was a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and contrary to Canadian law, since the “conviction” underlying the sentence was based on a coerced statement obtained through prolonged torture and a denial of due process.
  27. The Canadian government failed to establish and provide adequate education and training about the UN Committee against Torture to police, judges, and others involved in the trial, custody, interrogation, and treatment.
  28. The Canadian government failed to report fully and accurately to the UN Committee against Torture on the active participation of Canada’s agents and officials in breaches of UN Committee against Torture’s obligations in relation to Omar, and to report on its refusal to meet its ongoing obligations to him.
  29. The Canadian government failed to provide information requested by the UN Committee against Torture regarding Omar’s torture.
  30. The Canadian government has failed to establish and provide public disclosure of the facts or publicly acknowledge and apologize and accept responsibility for providing redress as required by the UN Committee against Torture.

Canada cannot erase the shocking failure of successive governments since 2002 to provide justice to Omar. It is time for us to turn the tide and demand remedy for this terrible wrong. We owe it to Omar.

Featured Image -- 6463

The President Who Will Not Close Guantánamo

one small window...

IMG_3868By the time Barack Obama became president of the United States in 2009, two-thirds of the prisoners at Guantánamo Bay had already been released by George Bush. With 242 remaining, Obama promised to close the prison camp by January 2010. In January 2016, in his final year as president, there are still around 100 prisoners.

As early as 2007, then Illinois senator and Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama declared that “As President, I will close Guantanamo, reject the Military Commissions Act, and adhere to the Geneva Conventions.” The pledge to close Guantánamo was a central plank of his election campaign.

One of his very first actions upon becoming president, on 22 January 2009, was to sign an executive order to review the status of prisoners, impose a moratorium on military tribunals and to close Guantánamo “as soon as practicable, and no later than 1 year from the date…

View original post 1,151 more words

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New York Times on Omar Khadr

The Free Omar Committee welcomes the attention the New York Times draws in a recent article to the continual suffering of the men tortured and wrongly held at Guantanamo.

It’s good to see that a section in the NY Times article is about Omar Khadr. Regrettably it contains too many errors to ignore; inaccurate information in the media has perpetuated damaging myths and kept falsehoods about Omar alive.

For 15 years misinformation has legitimized the horrific violations of Omar’s rights. Today it still shields governments from their accountability and prevents actions for redress, as recommended by the Committee of the United Nations Convention against Torture.

One of the main goals of the Free Omar Committee is to hold the media accountable for proper coverage of all aspects of Omar’s case.

In the following letter to the NY Times editor, Free Omar writer, Kathleen Copps, points out the inaccuracies in the New York Times article How U.S. Torture Left Legacy of Damaged Minds.


Thank you to the authors and the NY Times for reminding readers of the ongoing horrors of Guantanamo Bay U.S.military prison.

Our group, the Free Omar Khadr Now Campaign, advocates on Omar Khadr’s behalf and encourages accurate reporting on the complexities of the case.

With all due respect, we would like to point out that your recent article How U.S. Torture Left Legacy of Damaged Minds, incorrectly identifies Omar Khadr as a “one time Qaeda child soldier” and states that his father was an al Qaeda member.

In 2002, Omar Khadr, a 15 year old Canadian citizen was seriously wounded and captured by the U.S. military in Afghanistan and imprisoned for a decade-first in Bagram, the Guantanamo. In the wake of 9/11, falsely linking his family to al Qaeda manipulated public opinion on both sides of the border and served to make palatable, the abandonment, torture and complete denial of fundamental justice to a child.

Not only have journalists consistently perpetuated the Khadr / al Qaeda link, but like the authors of this recent article, have inaccurately maintained that Mr. Khadr
“pleaded guilty” to “war crimes”. References to guilty pleas and war crimes lead people to believe that the Guantanamo military tribunal was a legitimate process carried out in a properly-constituted court. It certainly was not. In fact Omar Khadr’s sentencing by a military
tribunal was itself a gave breach (i.e. a crime) of the Geneva Conventions and a crime in Canada.

In 2004, Mr. Khadr’s lawyers filed a civil claim against the Canadian government seeking compensation for the violations of his fundamental rights and for the complicity of Canadian officials in his torture.

Instead of providing redress, the Canadian government at tax payer expense, persistently fought Omar Khadr’s legal team at every level of court-only to lose each and every time.

At 29, after spending almost half his life in prison, Omar Khadr was finally released on bail from a Canadian prison in 2015. He chooses to avoid the limelight and instead focuses his energy pursuing educational goals and making positive plans for his future.

Canada has a long overdue obligation to settle the civil suit and provide remedy to Mr. Khadr for the travesty of injustice he has suffered.

Journalists have a long overdue obligation to accurately reveal the truth and set the record straight how a child was so ruthlessly abandoned in pursuit of the U.S. “War on Terror”.

Kathleen Copps

FREE Omar Khadr NOW Campaign


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30 ways the Canadian government failed Omar Khadr

September 19th, on the occasion of Omar’s 30 birthday, an article by Free Omar member and writer Kathleen Copps.


Omar Khadr turns 30 today. Released on bail in May 2015, he still faces limitations to his freedom and legal challenges ahead. Canadians must not be complacent about our obligation to him. For 14 years, we allowed grave violations of his fundamental rights, including torture and abuse when he was a child. Our individual liberties and equality before the law depend on the universal enforcement of rights, and remedy for rights that have been violated. On Omar’s 30th birthday, we must acknowledge all the ways Canada failed him.

Read the 30 Ways the Canadian Government Failed Omar Khadr, in the full article in Ricochet media.


 

Documentary about Omar Khadr ‘Guantanamo’s Child’ nominated for Emmy

 

CBC News, July 24, 2016 | Full article by Mark Lamoureux: Guantanamo’s Child: Omar Khadr documentary nominated for Emmy


Fragments from the article:

…….

Peter Raymont, the executive producer of the documentary, said he is honoured to be nominated. (White Pine Pictures)

Raymont said Omar Khadr is thrilled about the nomination.

“I called him right as soon as we found out about it and he’s delighted and very excited,” Raymond said.

“I think ongoing attention to his case and the injustice of Guantanamo Bay [is good.] There’s still detainees there, it’s disgraceful really that Guantanamo Bay remains open.”

Raymont said he wanted to be involved when he read Shephard’s book and was blown away by the story.

“I thought, boy, whenever Omar gets released or if we could interview him while he was in prison, we could make a very powerful film.”

…….

The 37th Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards will take place Sept. 21 in New York.

While Raymont said that being selected as a nominee alongside Shephard and Reed is a honour, he’s mainly happy he was able to help shine the light on Omar Khadr and the people around him.

“We’re very, very honoured that they chose us to tell the story.”

Omar Khadr: Out of the Shadows is a White Pine Pictures production in association with the CBC, and aired on CBC Firsthand.


From Canada, you can watch the nominated documentary in its entirety online here.


 

Omar Khadr in Edmonton court, has bail conditions relaxed

We are delighted to announce that on Thursday, May 5, Omar celebrated the first anniversary of his being let out on bail by having several release conditions removed or relaxed. “Happy anniversary,” said Justice Ross at the conclusion of the hearing.

Read more: http://edmontonjournal.com/news/crime/omar-khadr-in-edmonton-court-has-bail-conditions-relaxed

Omar Khadr has still not received his justice

Gerald Caplan is a rare Canadian journalist who tried to hold the government accountable for their treatment of Omar during the long years of his terrible journey.

Mr. Caplan’s latest column encourages people to participate in the Free Omar Letter Writing Campaign for the settlement of Omar’s 2004 civil suit: “Now I hope thousands of Canadians go to www.freeOmar.ca and demand that their government offer Mr. Khadr the justice he deserves for the many years of his life that they wickedly stole from him.”

 Read full article here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/…/omar-khad…/article29668916

Letter Writing Campaign: https://freeomar.ca/2016/04/04/letter-writing-campaign/ 

Our obligation to Omar Khadr

Our obligation to Omar KhadrThe federal government recently announced they would not proceed with the Conservative government’s appeal of Omar Khadr’s release on bail. There was a collective sigh of relief from those who have followed his tragic case.

Although Omar is no longer in prison, Canadians cannot be complacent. We must question how we allowed such a gross travesty of justice to occur; how, for over a decade, we sanctioned or acquiesced to the most serious violation of a citizen’s rights and to the torture and abuse of a child.

A letter writing campaign launched by the Free Omar Khadr Committee calls on the Canadian government to finally address our obligation to Omar.

Our individual liberties and equality before the law depend on the universal enforcement of rights and remedies for violations. Violations of those rights must be remedied; otherwise rights protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and international treaties are meaningless.

In 2004 a civil claim was filed against the Canadian government seeking compensation for the violations of Omar’s protected rights due to the actions of Canadian authorities and the participation of Canadian officials in his torture and abuse in the U.S. military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Rather than accepting the conclusion of the Supreme Court that Canadian officials were complicit in the human rights violations suffered while Omar was detained in Guantánamo, the Canadian government, at taxpayer’s expense, persistently has fought Omar’s legal team at every level of court — only to lose each and every time.

A settlement of the civil suit is long overdue. It is urgent that our government provide redress to Omar for the 13 years of suffering caused to him by Canada.
Canada must also launch a commission of inquiry into the actions of Canadian authorities in the human rights abuses Omar suffered during his illegitimate imprisonment by the U.S.

A series of Canadian governments (both Liberal and Conservative) from 2002-2016 stand accused of being complicit in the violation of virtually all Omar’s Charter rights and have contravened Canada’s duty to protect rights under the Convention against Torture, the Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Successful court challenges launched by Omar’s legal team in both Canadian and U.S. courts reveal the scope of the injustice:

    • the U.S. Supreme Court (2006) ruled that the U.S. Pentagon military commissions which “charged” and “sentenced” Omar were unconstitutional;
    • the Supreme Court of Canada (2008) ruled that the conduct of Canadian interrogators violated Omar’s fundamental human rights, the Canadian Charter of Rights and principles of fundamental justice;
    • the Federal Court ruled (2005) that Canadian agencies (including CSIS) had violated Omar’s Charter rights by turning information obtained by torture over to his U.S. captors to be used against him in his “trial”;
    • the Federal Court of Appeal ordered (2009) Canada to arrange for Omar’s immediate return (an order ignored by the federal government);
    • the Alberta Appeal Court ruled (2015) that Omar should not have been placed in a federal penitentiary upon his repatriation to Canada. Furthermore, the judgment highlighted the illegitimacy of the Guantánamo military tribunal, stating “…the evidence against [Khadr] would have been excluded in a Canadian court. The legal process under which [Khadr] was held and the evidence elicited from him have been found to have violated both the Charter and international human rights law…”.

The United Nations Committee against Torture (UNCAT) recommended in July 2012 that Canada “ensure that [Omar Khadr] receives appropriate redress for human rights violations that the Canadian Supreme Court has ruled he experienced.”

The remedial action required has been outlined by Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LWRC) and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group in their 2012 report to the UNCAT on the Omar Khadr case in which the numerous contraventions of obligations by Canada were identified.

LRWC identified Canada’s duties under the Convention against Torture to: fullyinvestigate the torture and ill-treatment of Omar Khadr; punish those responsible; and adopt effective measures to prevent further occurrences. According to LRWC: “The continuing failure to prevent, investigate and punish the torture and ill-treatment in the Omar Khadr case not only constitutes a continuing violation of the rights of Omar Khadr, but also encourages and enhances the danger of torture by state and non-state actors alike.”

The UN Committee Against Torture has posed the question: “Has Omar Khadr received appropriate redress for the human rights violations that he suffered, as ruled by the Canadian Supreme Court?” Until our government takes that responsibility, our obligation to Omar must continue.


Kathleen Copps is a retired B.C. teacher and member of the Free Omar Khadr Committee.
Photo: Free Omar Khadr Committee


 

Publication on Rabble.ca: http://rabble.ca/news/2016/04/our-obligation-to-omar-khadr


 

 

 

In Loving Memory of Afroze Ali


The Free Omar committee is grieved to share the news of the passing of our dear friend, Afroze Ali, who left us on Sunday, April 10, in Toronto.

It is a great loss to her family and all who knew and loved her and a difficult time for those of us who worked so closely with Afroze in pursuit of justice for Omar.

With her strong spirit, and passion for righteousness, rectitude and truth, she worked tirelessly for the Free Omar campaign, never wavering in her dedication, even as her health deteriorated. She contributed essentially to its progress over the years.

Her loss is felt in waves across the globe and her friends are in deep mourning for her family’s beloved member. Free Omar would like to personally offer condolences to her parents and two sons, whom she spoke of with great love always.

Rest in peace dearest Afroze.

 

Your Free Omar friends