Omar Khadr at river

Lawyers Rights Watch Canada’s letter to M.P. Mark Strahl regarding Omar Khadr


Request to our supporters-please take action!

Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) has written to Conservative M.P. Mark Strahl objecting to his reference to Omar Khadr as a “convicted terrorist” in May 8th statement in the House of Commons and repeated in a Twitter comment. Strahl, Andrew Scheer, and other Conservative politicians continue to defame and demonize Omar Khadr.

Please join LRWC by writing to gov officials listed at the end of the letter requesting:

  1. Strahl’s immediate and unqualified retraction and apology for inaccurate remarks about Mr. Khadr.
  2. That Canada fulfill its international legal obligation to fully redress the torture and other ill-treatment to which Canadian officials contributed during Omar Khadr’s unlawful detention in Guantanamo Bay prison.

 

Thank you!

The Free Omar Campaign

 


Here you can read LRWC’s excellent letter:

Canada: LRWC Objects to Strahl’s Statement Referring to Khadr as a “Convicted Terrorist” | Letter

22 May 2019

Mr. Mark Strahl
Member of Parliament
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6
Email: mark.strahl@parl.gc.ca

Dear Mr. Strahl;

Re: Your statement, “The PM has no problem apologizing to Omar Khadr a convicted terrorist…” to the House of Commons on 8 May 2019

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) objects to your reference to Omar Khadr as a “convicted terrorist” in your 8 May 2019 statement in the House of Commons.[1] You repeated this statement in a Twitter comment on 8 May 2019.[2]

This is a seriously inaccurate description of Mr. Khadr in fact and in law. Omar Khadr has never been validly charged, tried, or convicted of terrorism or other charge by a properly constituted, independent, and impartial court as required by Canadian, US and international law.[3]Instead, Omar Khadr was accused of ex post facto (retroactively created) offences, a practice forbidden under the US Constitution, Canadian law and international law. He was tried and convicted by a military commission, which lacked the independence and fair trial safeguards required by the Geneva Conventions and other international treaties. Mr. Khadr was denied access to an independent court to review the legality of his detention, treatment and the accusations against him from the time of his capture in July 2002 to his transfer to Canada in September 2012. After 10 years of illegal detention and violations of all his rights, including the right to freedom from torture, he allowed the arrangement by which a guilty plea was exchanged for his release from Guantanamo Bay prison.

The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) found in 2010 that Canadian officials contributed to Mr. Khadr’s unlawful detention in Guantanamo Bay prison and violation of his rights. The SCC stated:

The deprivation of [Khadr’s] right to liberty and security of the person is not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. The interrogation of a youth detained without access to counsel, to elicit statements about serious criminal charges while knowing that the youth had been subjected to sleep deprivation and while knowing that the fruits of the interrogations would be shared with the prosecutors, offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects.

Canada, as a State Party to the UN Convention Against Torture, is legally obligated to provide full redress to Mr. Khadr for violations of his rights to which Canadian officials contributed. In June 2012 the UN Committee Against Torture recommended that Canada ensure “appropriate redress for human rights violations that the Canadian Supreme Court has ruled [Omar Khadr] experienced.”[4]

According to the UN General Assembly Reparations Guidelines,[5] the duty to provide full redress to victims of torture requires a public apology that acknowledges the facts, accepts responsibility, and restores the dignity of the victim. In Mr. Khadr’s case, redress includes an apology that public acknowledges the truth regarding Canada’s complicity in his prolonged illegal detention and violations of his rights. As stated by the Committee Against Torture, interpreting duties of State parties under Article 14 of the Convention, “restoration of the dignity of the victim is the ultimate objective in the process of redress.”[6] Your 8 May comments do not serve that objective.

A statement by a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons carries great weight for many members of the public. Public vilification and inaccurate references to Mr. Khadr as a “convicted terrorist” by Canadian officials, including parliamentarians, have in the past led to threats against Mr. Khadr. The wide dissemination of your comments in the House of Commons has already resulted in numerous social media comments that inaccurately vilify him. It is important that you retract your inaccurate statement and apologize without delay.

The Committee Against Torture continues to review Canada’s obligation to provide full redress for Mr. Khadr. In 2018 the UN Committee Against Torture, noted with concern that Canada had provided inadequate information about redress to Mr. Khadr and recommended that Canada “provide information on specific measures taken in” the case of Omar Khadr and several others, and directed Canada to provide a follow-up report in December 2019.[7] The Committee also recommended the following remedies:

verification of the facts and full and public disclosure of the truth…; an official declaration or judicial decision restoring the dignity, the reputation and the rights of the victim and of persons closely connected with the victim; and judicial and administrative sanctions against persons liable for the violations.

Canada has not yet fulfilled its international legal obligation to fully redress the torture and other ill-treatment to which Canadian officials contributed during Omar Khadr’s unlawful detention in Guantanamo Bay prison. A statement by a Member of Parliament wrongly casting blame on Omar Khadr cannot stand uncorrected. Therefore, we request your immediate and unqualified retraction and apology for your inaccurate remarks about Mr. Khadr.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,
Gail Davidson, Executive Director, LRWC
Catherine Morris, Director, Lawyers Rights Watch Canada

Copied to:

Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada  K1A 0A6
Email: justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca

Hon. Pablo Rodrigeuz
Minister of Heritage and Multiculturalism
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada  K1A 0A6
Email: Pablo.Rodriguez@parl.gc.ca

Mr. Gary Anandasangaree
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada  K1A 0A6
Email: gary.anand@parl.gc.ca

Hon. Andrew Scheer
Leader of the Opposition
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0A6
Email: andrew.scheer@parl.gc.ca

Mr. Jagmeet Singh
Leader of the New Democratic Party
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario Canada K1A 0A6
Email: Jagmeet.Singh@parl.gc.ca

Ms. Elizabeth May
Leader of the Green Party
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario Canada K1A 0A6
Email: elizabeth.may@parl.gc.ca

Hon. Geoff Regan
Speaker, House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0A6
Email: geoff.regan@parl.gc.ca


[1] 42nd Parliament, 1st Session, Edited Hansard • Number 412, Wednesday, May 8, 2019, Mr. Mark Strahl (Chilliwack—Hope, CPC): online: https://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/house/sitting-412/hansard.

[2] Mark Strahl, MP, Twitter statement, 8 May 2019, at https://twitter.com/markstrahl/status/1126228079859388419?s=20.

[3] Prof. Audrey Macklin, “The Legal Inadequacy of U.S. Military Commissions for Trying Omar Khadr,” summary, University of Toronto, available at:  https://www.law.utoronto.ca/documents/Mackin/khadr_LegalInadequacy.pdf.

[4] UN Committee Against Torture (CAT), Concluding observations on the sixth periodic report of Canada, 25 June 2012, CCPR/C/CAN/CO/6, at para. 16.

[5] UN General Assembly, Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law: resolution / adopted by the General Assembly, 21 March 2006, A/RES/60/147, para. 22 (e), online: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4721cb942.html

[6] Committee Against Torture, General Comment No. 3, Implementation of article 14 by States parties, CAT/C/GC.3, 12 November 2012 at para. 4

[7] UN Committee Against Torture, Concluding Observations on the 7thperiodic report of Canada, 7 December 2019CAT/C/CAN/CO/7, at para. 39, online: https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CAT%2fC%2fCAN%2fCO%2f7&Lang=en

 


Interview Omar Khadr | Tout le Monde en Parle


Omar’s composure, eloquence, and standing ovation! on Radio Canada t.v. Sunday night, has resulted in a much-needed sea change in coverage by the mainstream media. In this article from the National Post, Omar’s words are highlighted-a rare opportunity for readers to hear from Omar himself.


OTTAWA — In his first major interview since an Alberta judge ruled his war crimes sentence has expired, a composed Omar Khadr appeared Sunday night on the ferociously popular Quebec talk show Tout le monde en parle.

Walking out to greet the Montreal studio audience in a blue-grey suit jacket, Khadr got a standing ovation, then settled in for a 14-minute chat during which he faced plenty of tough questions from host Guy A. Lepage.

Read the full article in the National Post here: Highlights of Omar Khadr’s appearance on Quebec’s most popular talk show


Watch Omar Khadr, Sunday April 21, on Radio Canada


Tomorrow night (Sunday April 21) Quebec’s most popular televsion programme, “Tout le Monde en Parle”, will air an interview with Omar Khadr (8 p.m.EST) on Radio Canada.

Check listings in your area to tune in or follow this link: https://ici.radio-canada.ca/tele/tout-le-monde-en-parle/site/segments/entrevue/114788/omar-khadr-justice-liberte-enfant-soldat-guantanamo-tribunal


 

Finally getting it right on Omar Khadr


Ahmed Sahi’s excellent Opinion Piece (March 28th) in The Star:
“In this land, there is one authority that keeps the government of Canada accountable for its actions and upholds the highest standards of justice – and that authority is the Supreme Court of Canada.

On Canada’s treatment of Khadr and its utter violation of his rights and the injustice against him, the Supreme Court ruled that “Canada actively participated in a process contrary to its international human rights obligations and contributed to Khadr’s ongoing detention so as to deprive him of his right to liberty and security of the person.”

In summarizing the wrongs committed against Khadr, the Supreme Court said “the interrogation of a youth detained without access to counsel, to elicit statements about serious criminal charges while knowing that the youth had been subjected to sleep deprivation… offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects.”

All these facts should be brought to light for the public again, and the “polls” that some conservative pundits have so giddily referred to should be conducted with the public knowing what really happened to Khadr.

Armed with the right information, I think the majority of Canadians would agree that we as a country have finally gotten it right with Omar Khadr – even when many would speak loudly against it.”


Read the full opinion piece by Ahmed Sahi here: Finally getting it right on Omar Khadr | The Star


 

Message from Omar Khadr to his supporters


.

On Monday, March 25, Chief Justice Mary Moreau granted me the freedom I have been long awaiting. This decision did not bring an end to my legal battles but it has removed the shadow of indefinite chains from my life. I would like to thank everyone who has stood by me throughout the years.

I would like to give special thanks to Nate Whitling, who has and continues to, tirelessly defend my rights..

I would like to thank the members of the Free Omar Khadr Now group along with the Pour Omar Khadr group who have been a consistent support system for me and also have worked to bring awareness to the facts of my case. In addition, I would like to thank Lawyers Rights Watch for bringing my case forward to the United Nations Committee Against Torture.

I would also like to thank all of my fellow Canadian citizens and people across the world who have taken time out of their day to message me words of support. Your words are like rays of light in the darkness.

.
.
.
  Omar Khadr……………………..
………………..

photo: Omar Khadr, next to Statue of Ivstitia (Justice) at the Supreme Court of Canada

..

Omar Khadr walks out of Courtroom 417 a free man


At last.

Omar Khadr’s sentence is finished, Alberta judge rules. He is a free man now, after 17 years of injustice. A huge debt of gratitude to Omar’s lawyer, Nate Whitling, for years of steadfast defense. We also thank all those who have supported our campaign throughout the years.

CBC Edmonton made the commendable effort to interview three experts for today’s article on the judge’s decision to end Omar’s sentence <read article here>. Nate Whitling, Omar’s very determined and brilliant lawyer offers his perspective on the case, as does U. of Alberta professor Janice Williamson, editor of Omar Khadr, Oh Canada and member of Free Omar Khadr Now Campaign. Included too, is Audrey Macklin (Professor and Chair in Human Rights Law at U. of T.) who has written extensively on the illegality of Omar’s Guantanamo detention, charges and sentence. How refreshing to hear from those who help the Canadian public appreciate the injustice Omar has faced all these years.

Still left is the US appeal to overturn Omar’s Guantanamo ‘conviction’. The rule of law is strong.

 

Letter to Media: In regards to coverage of Omar Khadr


Dear Member of the Media,

Please find attached an updated Factsheet on Omar Khadr prepared by the Free Omar Khadr Now advocacy group. This Factsheet is offered as a media resource in advance of Chief Justice Mary Moreau’s March 25 decision on whether Omar Khadr’s sentence will be expired. We hope the Factsheet will be helpful to journalists new to the story and to others who may have unwittingly incorporated inaccurate facts.

Several errors tend to be repeated in the media.

See, for example: “Omar Khadr pleaded guilty and was convicted of killing Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer, an American medic in the U.S. army, with a hand grenade in Afghanistan in 2002, when he was 15.”

  • Error #1: The illegitimacy of the U.S. Military Commission convictions

The U.S. Military Commission has been discredited internationally – and, in 2008, by the US Supreme Court. These commissions are not properly constituted courts of law and therefore they are unable to legitimately sentence, convict or negotiate guilty pleas. Terms such as “convicted terrorist’, “war criminal” or “murderer” are inaccurate with reference to Omar Khadr.

In her April 2014 ruling, Chief Justice of Alberta Catherine Fraser said: “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 laws.”

  • Error#2: Misidentifying Sgt. Speer, an active Delta Forces soldier, as medic

Some journalists describe Sgt. Speer as “an American medic in the U.S. army.” While he was training to be a medic, Sgt. Speer was deployed as an active Delta Forces soldier at the Afghan compound July 27, 2002.  Discredited journalistic sources such as Rebel Media commonly describe Sgt. Speer as a medic as did former PM Stephen Harper and Conservative Party officials.

The U.S. never charged Omar Khadr with killing a medic, a Geneva Conventions war crime. As Audrey Macklin, law professor and director of The Centre for Criminology and Sociological Studies at the University of Toronto, writes: “Sergeant Speer was not acting as a medic during the battle in which he was killed and he was not rushing to Mr. Khadr’s aid when he died. Not even the U.S. military prosecutors alleged this. Sgt. Speer’s death as a combatant, a tragic loss to his family and his country, was not a war crime.”

For more details of the firefight, you can read the testimony of another Delta Forces soldier who was present at the battle when Sgt Speer died.

 

The impact of misleading statements about Omar Khadr’s story perpetuates myths and propaganda about his case and misrepresents the rule of law. At this particular moment in history when white supremacist views are mobilized by proliferating groups, the Omar Khadr case can be a particularly charged issue.

 

Thanks especially to those of you who have worked to cover this long and complex story over many years.

 

Sincerely

Helen Sadowski and Janice Williamson
on behalf of the Free Omar Khadr Now Committee

 


Also see:


 

March 2019 – Newsletter Free Omar Campaign | Omar Khadr wants sentence expired

Judge to decide March 25

On March 25th Chief Justice Mary Moreau will hand down her decision whether or not the sentence imposed on Omar by the illegitimate Guantanamo process will be expired. Anyone who has followed the 17 years of abuse and injustice Omar has faced, will be anxiously awaiting the news that once again Canadian courts have ruled in his favour.

Read and watch here: Omar Khadr wants “war crimes” sentence expired; judge to decide March 25

 

 

Attention to all Free Omar supporters in Edmonton!

Sam Morison, Omar Khadr’s pentagon-appointed lawyer, is returning to Edmonton, to offer a public lecture on Omar’s US appeal. For those who were unable to attend his previous talk, here is a link.

The talk offers excellent background to the legal issues and the nature of the military tribunals which operate outside civil and legal rights.

Sam Morison: Attorney Samuel Morison from the US Department of Defense has practiced law for more than 20 years and is a nationally recognized expert on federal executive clemency and the restoration of civil rights.

DATE & TIME
February 27, 2019
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm

LOCATION
Room 193 Law Centre
(111th St. and 89th Ave.)
University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB

This event is free and open to the public

Edmonton, February 27, 2019 | Speaker Event – Sam Morison: United States vs Omar Khadr

 

Attention to all Free Omar supporters in Edmonton!

Sam Morison, Omar Khadr’s pentagon-appointed lawyer, will discuss the constitutional issues that are being litigated in the Omar Khadr case: the scope of Congress’ authority to codify violations of the Law of Nations, and the application of the Ex Post Facto Clause.

Sam Morison: Attorney Samuel Morison from the US Department of Defense has practiced law for more than 20 years and is a nationally recognized expert on federal executive clemency and the restoration of civil rights. He is Omar Khadr`s U.S. Pentagon appointed lawyer and leads the appeal against Omar’s Guantanamo military “conviction”.

DATE & TIME
February 27, 2019
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm

LOCATION
Room 193 Law Centre
(111th St. and 89th Ave.)
University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB

This event is free and open to the public

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