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.”
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