Upcoming event: Talk Dennis Edney at McGill University’s Law Faculty, Montreal on October 21, 2015.
Dennis Edney Q.C., has spent more than a decade advocating on behalf of Omar Khadr, the youngest prisoner and last Western national to be released from Guantanamo Bay Prison. Omar, a 15 year old Canadian citizen at the time of his capture by U.S. forces in Afghanistan, also holds the dubious distinction of being the first person to be prosecuted by a military commission for purported war crimes he is claimed to have committed while still a child.
Mr. Edney’s legal victories (alongside co-counsel Nate Whitling) include: Omar’s repatriation back to Canada, three successful Supreme Court of Canada judgments regarding the violation of Omar’s legal rights, and more recently securing Omar’s release on bail while his Military Commission convictions are appealed in the United States. Mr. Edney and Mr. Whitling have defended Omar on a largely pro bono basis, reaching into their own pockets to represent Omar.
Perhaps even more controversial is the fact that Mr. Edney is more than Omar’s lawyer. One of the linchpins in securing Omar’s release from jail was the fact that Mr. Edney and his wife Patricia offered their home as Omar’s residence, something unheard of in legal circles. As a result, Omar now lives with the Edney family.
It seems only fitting that Mr. Edney, a Scottish soccer player turned lawyer, would be described as a thorn in the side of the Canadian government, which has continued to maintain that Omar is a dangerous terrorist. In contrast, Mr. Edney has remained steadfast that Omar is a victim of a system created in Guantanamo Bay to justify the use of torture, extensive human rights violations, secret evidence and illegal trials. He maintains that the Canadian government has being complicit in the systematic and flagrant abuses on one of its own citizens by failing to demand that the United States adhere to international laws.
A campaign has been launched to raise the funds necessary to bring Mr. Edney to McGill University’s Law Faculty, located at 3644 Peel on October 21, 2015. His talk will focus on the rule of law in an age of fear: how the post 9/11 climate of fear and insecurity has been exploited to justify long standing human rights violations carried out in the name of national security. This has led to an intense debate over where the balance lies between the rule of law, human rights and civil liberties on the one hand and security on the other. It is Mr. Edney’s position that if we do not get the balance right, we can fall into lawlessness. One has to look no further than Guantanamo Bay.
Mr. Edney has received a number of awards and distinctions including the National Pro Bono Award (2008), the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia’s Human Rights Medal (2009), the Gerald L. Gall award by the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights (2013), the Winnipeg Citizens Award (2014), the Rotary Club of Canada’s Paul Harris Fellowship (2014) and most recently a place among Canada’s 25 Most Influential Lawyers by Canadian Lawyer in Criminal/ Human Rights Law (2015).
Should you wish to contribute to this campaign and/or attend the event please go to our Go Fund Me Page to find out more. Any funds collected over and above the necessary expenses for Mr. Edney visit will go entirely to Omar’s legal fund.
Jess Adley, Montreal.