Statement from Omar Khadr’s Legal Team | Regarding Status Of Prisoner Transfer Application

OTTAWA, June 21, 2012 /CNW/ – Omar Khadr’s legal team provided an update today on the status of Omar’s prisoner transfer application, which was submitted to the Canadian government on March 30, 2011.

Despite the agreement made by the Canadian government to transfer Omar into Canadian custody to serve the remainder of his sentence, which was made as part of his plea deal in 2010, his American and Canadian legal teams confirmed today that the delay in processing the transfer rests solely with the Canadian government. The prisoner transfer process is the responsibility of the office of the Minister of Public Safety, Vic Toews.

John Norris, lead Canadian counsel:

“The conduct of the Canadian government is unconscionable.  Omar was officially recognized by the United Nations as a child soldier, and despite this, he is the only minor to have been convicted of war crimes in modern times.

The Minister should approve the transfer application immediately.  In October 2010, the Canadian government was intimately involved in the negotiations of the pre-trial agreement.  At that time, Canada agreed to approve Omar’s transfer to Canada.  The Minister of Foreign Affairs confirmed in the House that Canada would implement the agreement.

We continue to be stonewalled by Minister Toews’ office.  They have provided us with no information on the progress of the application.  The only response we have received from Minister Toews is a letter sent to us three hours after the release of our press advisory about this press conference.  It simply repeated the government’s empty rhetoric.

Omar is a Canadian citizen.  He has now spent a decade at Guantanamo Bay.  We call on Minister Toews to immediately approve the prisoner transfer application and return Omar to Canada to serve the remainder of his sentence in his home country.”

Lieutenant-Colonel Jon Jackson, lead U.S. military counsel:

“The bottom line is that there would have been no plea deal without Canada’s agreement in October 2010 to bring Omar to his country of citizenship.  The only thing preventing Omar’s transfer from the United States is the Canadian government.  The U.S. Secretary of Defense approved the transfer on April 16, 2012.   There is nothing stopping Minister Toews from approving the transfer now.

The United States is not soft on terrorism.  The American government would not allow a detainee to leave Guantanamo if he was in any way a threat.  The actions of the U.S. government on Omar’s case demonstrate that Omar is not a threat:  it is why the U.S. entered into the plea agreement; it is why the U.S. agreed to the transfer; and why the U.S. is prepared to transfer him now.

The Canadian government is failing to live up to the commitment it made in 2010.”

For further information:To request an interview with John Norris or LTC Jackson, please contact:

Patrick Gossage    
Cell: 416-315-3307  
patrick.gossage@mediaprofile.com

Nicole Bell
Cell: 647-274-5469 
nicole.bell@mediaprofile.com

ALEX NEVE | Canada must do more to stop torture

The Globe and Mail, Jun. 06 2012

Canada is failing to live up to its international obligations to stop torture. Last week, the UN Committee against Torture released its concluding observations from a review of Canada’s record on preventing, punishing and remedying torture and ill-treatment. It’s a review that comes around periodically, the last one in 2005, by virtue of the fact that Canada signed on to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment 25 years ago.

The committee lays out a solid framework of recommendations for action by the federal government. Key now is for the government to promptly implement those recommendations. Doing so will uphold the rights of individuals who have experienced torture or ill-treatment through the action, inaction or complicity of Canadian officials. It will also position Canada as a forceful leader in the campaign to eradicate torture worldwide.

There has been much debate recently about the validity of UN human-rights experts reviewing countries like Canada. The UN special rapporteur on the right to food faced derision from a number of cabinet ministers for carrying out a mission to Canada last month. Those criticisms seem predicated on the view that because human-rights violations are much worse elsewhere, global bodies should not waste their time looking at Canada’s record. No doubt some will raise the same objection to this report from the Committee against Torture.

But that misses the point. Human-rights norms, whether dealing with the right to food, protection against torture or any other right, are universal. No one is more or less entitled than anyone else to have their rights protected. If UN human-rights experts start drawing lines between countries, they will undermine that fundamental notion of universality.

The committee’s review does not, by any measure, suggest that there is a crisis of torture in Canadian prisons. Holding the report up against the review it has recently completed of Syria’s record leaves no doubt as to where torturers are most active.

But international obligations with respect to torture are directed not only at those who apply electric shocks and beat prisoners with cables and clubs. Countries are obliged to ensure that they do not in any way facilitate torture in other countries. They are required to make sure torturers face justice wherever they commit their crimes. They must ensure that survivors of torture receive redress. And they must put in place laws, policies and oversight processes that will prevent torture and ill-treatment from occurring in the first place. The committee finds Canada comes up short across all of those obligations.

For instance, Canada risks complicity in torture by allowing deportation to torture, denying fair process in security-certificate cases, giving the nod to prisoner transfers in war zones when there is an obvious risk of torture and, under proposed legislation currently before Parliament, restricting appeal rights for refugee claimants who fear torture in their home countries. There is clearly complicity in the ministerial direction to CSIS allowing intelligence information to be shared with other countries even when that might cause torture, and in authorizing the use of intelligence information that was likely obtained through torture in other countries. The committee has called on Canada to adopt reforms in all of these areas.

The failure to provide redress to the three men whose cases were examined in a judicial inquiry conducted by former Supreme Court of Canada justice Frank Iacobucci attracts the committee’s attention. The inquiry found Canadian complicity in the overseas torture inflicted on Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin in Syria and Egypt. Five years later, the men are bogged down in court, trying to obtain compensation and an apology. The committee chastises Canada for failing to provide them with redress. It also notes the importance of remedying the human rights violations that the Supreme Court of Canada has twice ruled on in Omar Khadr’s case.

The committee speaks out about a range of other issues, many of which have been the subject of considerable attention in Canada. It calls for a national action plan to address violence against indigenous women, rejecting the Canadian government’s worrying assertion that this was an issue beyond the scope of the Convention. It points to the need for inquiries to look into the policing of the 2010 G20 Summit; as well as the Ontario Provincial Police’s handing of indigenous land protests at Tyendinaga, Ont., in 2007 and 2008.

It notes that the government’s 2011 “most wanted” list once again exhibited a preference to deport accused war criminals and torturers rather than actively ensure they will face justice. It highlights that state-immunity laws should not shield foreign governments from Canadian lawsuits brought by survivors of torture. It is concerned about the lack of consistent restrictive standards for Taser use. And it urges that the Arar Inquiry’s proposal for reformed oversight of national security activities in Canada be adopted.

Torture and ill-treatment continue to be a worldwide human-rights plague. Canada can be a leader in the campaign to bring it to an end by doing what the UN’s expert body on torture says we must do, and then by forcefully and consistently pressing other governments to follow suit.

Alex Neve is secretary-general of Amnesty International Canada.

Source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/canada-must-do-more-to-stop-torture/article4233910/?cmpid=rss1

PRESS RELEASE | Omar Khadr: U.N. Committee against Torture recommends transfer to Canada and redress for human rights violations

For Immediate Release  Friday, June 01, 2012

Omar Khadr: U.N. Committee against Torture recommends transfer to Canada and redress for human rights violations

 The Committee against Torture (Committee) issued its Concluding Observations on Canada on May 31. The hearing on Canada was held in Geneva May 21-22. Among the issues the Committee reviewed was Canada’s treatment of Canadian Omar Khadr during his ongoing detention at Guantánamo prison. Omar Khadr is a Canadian citizen, captured in at age 15 in Afghanistan by the US in 2002 and imprisoned since in Bagram and Guantánamo Bay prisons.

In its May 2012 “shadow report” to the Committee, LRWC and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (CLMG) had recommended that Canada immediately repatriate Khadr and remedy the violations against him. The Committee agreed. The Committee’s Concluding Observations urge Canada “to promptly approve Omar Khadr’s transfer application and to ensure that he receives appropriate redress for human rights violations that the Canadian Supreme Court has ruled he experienced.”

The Supreme Court of Canada confirmed in 2010 that Khadr’s s. 7 Charter rights to liberty and security of the person had been violated by Canadian and US officials. In 2008 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that participation by Canadian officials in the Guantánamo Bay process—which violated the Geneva Conventions—was contrary to Canada’s binding international obligations.

The Committee also recommended that Canada raise awareness of Convention against Torture (Convention) requirements amongst judges and members of the public.

All reports are available at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cat/cats48.htm

A webcast of the Committee’s review of Canada, which took place May 21-22 in Geneva, will be posted in the archives at: http://www.treatybodywebcast.org/

Contacts

For interviews or more information, contact:

 Gail Davidson, LRWC
Tel: +1-604 738-0338
Fax: +1-604 736-1175
Email: lrwc@portal.ca
Website: www.lrwc.org
 Gavin Magrath
Magrath O’Connor LLP
302-326 Richmond St. West, Toronto, ON, Canada, M5V 1X2
Phone: 416-931-0463
Email: gavin at agrathoconnor.com
Source: http://www.lrwc.org/omar-khadr-committee-against-torture-recommends-transfer-to-canada-and-redress-for-human-rights-violations/