DONATE TO THE FREE OMAR FUND

 


TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE FREE OMAR 2017 FUND, you have the following options:

  • 2) By Cheque, you can send to: Free Omar Campaign; P.O. Box 57112 RPO; East Hastings Street, Vancouver; V5K 1Z0 B.C.; Canada. (Please enclose your email address)
  • 3) By Bank Deposit/Interac e-transfer: Free Omar Campaign; VanCity Credit Union, Branch 13; Account number: 531590; FreeOmar.ca@gmail.com


On May 7, 2015, after a 13 year imprisonment, Omar Khadr was finally freed on bail. His ordeal is far from over.

There are still legal battles ahead. The Free Omar Campaign will continue its work until Omar is completely free to come and go where he wants, and until he is acquitted of all illegitimate charges applied by the widely condemned, extrajudicial Guantanamo military ‘court’. The violation of Omar’s rights must be properly remedied.

We will continue to support Omar’s pro bono lawyers with their mounting costs.

Upcoming 2017 court challenges are:

  • Civil lawsuit against the Canadian government for complicity in his arbitrary detention and cruel and inhumane treatment at the hands of the United States;
  • Appeal to the Court of Military Commission Review in the U.S. to vacate all Omar’s Guantanamo Bay ‘convictions’.

We continue to need your help and ask you to support the Free Omar 2017 Fundraising campaign. The money goes directly to Omar’s defence with no administration fees.

Your contribution makes his defence possible and brings Omar’s case closer to justice.

 

Thank you!

The Free Omar Campaign.

 


 

picture Dennis and Omar; courtesy of Krishna Lalbiharie


 

GUANTANAMO’S CHILD: OMAR KHADR | Trailer World Première, Toronto Film Festival 2015

The Untold Story Of Omar Khadr – documentary (80 min.)


Omar Khadr is finally free, though on strict bail conditions while an appeal of his US military commission conviction is underway. He has been behind bars for the last 13 years, without any evidence of guilt. Many human rights issues in the case remain unresolved.
a short history 
  • Omar (now 28) was born in Toronto.
  • In his youth, the family moved back and forth between Canada and Afghanistan, where his father worked as an aid worker,
  • On July 27, 2002, the house where his father had left Omar as a translator, was heavily bombed by U.S. forces. When found, barely alive under rubble, Omar was shot in the back and captured.
  • Months of brutal interrogations and torture followed during his captivity in Bagram.  Fifteen-year-old Omar was falsely accused and forced to confess to the killing of a U.S. soldier who fell during the battle.
  • October 2002, just 16, he was sent to Guantanamo, where he spent the next decade – often in solitary confinement.
  • On October 30, 2010, he was forced to plead guilty before a U.S. military commission in Guantanamo. He knew his only chance of getting out of there was to ‘confess’. The Guantanamo paradox: you had to lose to win. Those lucky enough to get charged and convicted got out.
  • The “crimes” he had to plead guilty to did not exist under Canadian, U.S. or international law. The Guantanamo court is not a real court as it is not internationally recognized. 
  • As a result, Omar is the only child ever convicted of a war crime and the only person convicted for any of the 7,000+ American casualties in the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. 
  • On September 26, 2012, he was repatriated to Canada and placed in a maximum security prison.
  • On May 7, 2015, after almost 13 years of wrongful imprisonment, he was finally released on bail, pending the appeal of his Guantanamo ‘conviction’.

Excerpt from Omar Khadr: Out of the Shadows – the 40 min. version of the documentary.


Call for Fair Reporting on the Omar Khadr case!

One of the main goals of the Free Omar Khadr Now-campaign is to hold the media accountable for proper coverage of all aspects of Omar’s case. While there has been significant improvement in the way the mainstream media covers the story, misinformation, inaccuracies and lies continue to be printed!

Below the usual falsehoods that Canadian media imposes on us and our call for factual, fair reporting, voiced by Gail Davidson of Lawyers Rights Watch Canada:
Juridical Facts in Omar Khadr's case

Misinformation, inaccuracies and lies continue to be printed by the mainstram media in their covering of the Omar Khadr story. Their legally and factually wrong reporting is dangerously misleading.

Mr. Khadr cannot reasonably (or legally) be considered to have ‘admitted’ to the U.S. accusations against him. In October 2010 Mr. Khadr had been arbitrarily (i.e. without legal justification and without access to judicial oversight to determine the illegality of his detention or his treatment) for over 8 years.

Throughout that 8+ year period Mr. Khadr was subjected to a variety of torture and other cruel, inhumane and degrading punishment and treatment, first at the notorious Bagram prison and then at the extra-legal Guantanamo Bay prisons. His treatment throughout is prohibited by U.S., Canadian and international law binding on the U.S. and Canada. In advance of his October 2010 scheduled appearance before the Guantanamo Bay tribunal, it was known by all that this process –the Gitmo tribunal– would not result in Mr. Khadr gaining his freedom. In August 2010, the White House had issued a public statement confirming the U.S. intention to continue to hold Guantanamo Bay prisoners indefinitely, irrespective of a finding of not guilty by the Guantanamo Bay tribunals. Mr. Khadr’s acceptance in October 2010 of the ‘get out of jail in eight years and go back to Canada in one year’ plea bargain offered by the U.S. would not be considered by any properly constituted court in Canada as an ‘admission’ that could be used or relied upon, to establish guilt.

Having been obtained by torture and other impermissible coercion, Mr. Khadr’s acceptance of the plea bargain is not and cannot be considered, an admission of guilt. This is a principle of law well understood by the public. The mainstream media’s insistence on referring to Omar Khadr as a convicted murderer invites listeners/readers to assume that the media knows of factors unknown to listeners/readers, that render the wholly illegal capture, detention, treatment and extraction of statements through the use of torture, the charging and ‘conviction’ of Omar Khadr, as somehow (exceptionally) legal and justified.

For several years, Canadian mainstream media has persisted in parroting the erroneous pronouncements of the very governments implicated in the horrific and illegal maltreatment of Omar Khadr.

Gail Davidson
Lawyer’s Rights Watch Canada – LRWC
3220 West 13th Avenue
Vancouver, BC CANADA, V6K 2V5
Tel: +1-604 736-1175
Fax: +1-604 736-1170
Skype: gail.davidson.lrwc
Email: lrwc@portal.ca
Website: http://www.lrwc.org


Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) is a committee of lawyers who promote human rights and the rule of law internationally by protecting advocacy rights. LRWC campaigns for advocates in danger because of their human rights advocacy, engages in research and education and works in cooperation with other human rights organizations. LRWC has Special Consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.


Medic meme


An Open Letter to the World | Omar Khadr

By Hazel Gabe

Everyone, Omar Khadr has been in prison for THIRTEEN YEARS. Since he was FIFTEEN. Now he’s twenty-eight. And not just prison. Illegal black hole detention with no rights, and people torturing him, and, for years on end, no end in sight, no knowledge of if it would ever stop. Since he was FIFTEEN. Ten years in Guantanamo Bay.

Who is Omar Khadr, you might ask? He’s an innocent young man whose story proves what happens when racism and Islamophobia is used by powerful, cowardly governments that want a scapegoat. Let me tell you about him. He is important.

He’s a Canadian citizen. He was born in Toronto. He grew up in Toronto and Pakistan. When he was fifteen, his dad left him with some men in Afghanistan, telling him to translate for them, since he spoke several languages. His father was supposed to come back to get him, but he never did. Omar was stuck there. If he’d run away, it would have shamed his father, and he might have been killed. The men were Taliban fighters.

While he was there, Americans attacked. First they bombed the house. Bombed it with 500-pound bombs. It was reduced to rubble. Then they stormed it. Eighty feet from the entrance, in a small alley, a special forces soldier recalls seeing Omar face down in rubble, screaming from the shrapnel wounds from the bombing, which had pierced his eyes and all over this body. The soldier shot him twice in the back. (This was a war crime.)

Omar was taken to a place called Bagram. He was unconscious for a week. When he woke up, his suffering had only just begun. Soldiers there told him he had killed an American soldier. They tortured him. He was still wounded from the shrapnel and the gunshot wounds and the head trauma from the bombs. He didn’t know anyone there and he was a fifteen year old kid. They shackled him in painful positions to make his wounds hurt, they hung him by his wrists, they threatened him with rape. They waterboarded him. They made him confess to anything they wanted. He confessed to killing an American soldier.

They didn’t bring him consular officials from Canada, they didn’t let him talk to a lawyer. They didn’t have someone there who was on his side (International law forbids the lengthly incarceration of children, stipulates that they must be provided education and must have access to adult advocates. International law forbids torture).

They asked Canada if it was ok they were treating a Canadian citizen like this. Canada said we don’t care. Canada said let us prove our loyalty to the United States by sacrificing one of our own. Let us help you torture him.

They brought him to Guantanamo Bay. They didn’t charge him with anything. They just held him there, for years. Sixteen, seventeen. Most kids are in high school. He had no schooling opportunities, no books. He was tortured with cells that are constantly kept freezing cold, no blankets, lights that never turn off. Sleep deprivation. Stress positions. Other things, no doubt worse.

Canadian officials came to visit him, but they were only there to ask him more questions. He cried for his mother when he realized they weren’t going to help him.

Finally they charged him with something. It wasn’t a crime. It was a fake crime they invented. War crimes are things that exist in international law, because wars are things that happen between countries. The Geneva conventions tell us what are and are not war crimes. War crimes include things like killing a medic, killing a prisoner, or torturing a prisoner of war. Omar did not commit any war crimes. Even if he had thrown a grenade that killed an American soldier, it would not have been a war crime. The soldier would have been a war casualty, and Omar would have been a child soldier, protected under international law because child soldiers are vulnerable and not held responsible.

So the US invented some new “crimes”. They called them war crimes, even though they couldn’t be, because no one country can unilaterally decide that they’ve changed the rules of war without consulting with the rest of the world. That way lies no laws at all. But this is what the Americans did.

Then they “tried” him in something that looked like a court, but wasn’t. It had the judge and the lawyers, but it didn’t have fairness, what’s called due process. He wasn’t allowed to see the evidence. He wasn’t allowed to choose his lawyers. He wasn’t allowed to bring witnesses for the defence, such as psychologists who knew him and could attest that he was a good person who was remarkably peaceful and generous and kind and without hate, amazingly, a person who spoke of peace and not a radicalized jihadist.

This false court allowed the confessions. The confessions that had been made by a fifteen-year-old who was being tortured, who was concussed and injured and bleeding, and had never been told that anything he said could be used against him in a court of law. Indeed it could not have been used in a real court. But this wasn’t a real court.

He was twenty-three by the time it went to “trial.” He was told that the trial wouldn’t change anything. Even if he was ruled innocent, they could keep him there forever.

Or he could plead guilty. Then he’d have a chance of going back to Canada.

He had no choice.

Canada let him come home, a year late. Age twenty-six. The government officials labelled him a dangerous terrorist, and stuck him in solitary. The first time he was allowed out, he was attacked by one of the violent criminals in the max security prison. At Guantanamo he had been considered minimum risk.

Government officials call him a terrorist. Newspapers call him a terrorist. And they keep him locked up, even though the Guantanamo Bay “court” wasn’t a real “court.” Australia and Great Britain protected their citizens from the flagrant abuse of their rights by taking them out of there as soon as possible. Canada abandoned a child there.

Canada continues to pretend Omar is guilty. It continues to pin its hatred of immigrants, its hatred of Muslims, and its hatred of people it sees as interlopers who come and take advantage of our “freedoms,” on Omar. It continues to abuse him and pick and choose what citizens it wants to uphold and what citizens it wants to abuse. The government continues to break the law by keeping him in prison.

Finally Omar is in a medium security prison, has friends in the nearby city of Edmonton who visit him, and teachers who have been supporting him from a nearby college. All faciliated by his Canadian lawyer and other supporters. His lawyer has worked without pay for him for over ten years, almost bankrupting himself in the process.

Omar Khadr has just applied for Bail. He’s in court this week. If he gets it, he could be free!! Free for the first time in thirteen years!!!

Pray for him. Pray for freedom for Omar.
Even if he gains freedom, Omar’s still got a long fight ahead of him to clear his name in the American courts and the Canadian courts.

You can donate to his legal fund here: https://freeomar.ca/donate/donate/

US Ruling Could Help Omar Khadr Successfully Appeal his Guantanamo ‘Conviction’

The US Court of Military Commission Review (CMCR) made an important decision that acknowledged its illegitimacy in convicting on charges of providing material support for terrorism. The CMCR decision follows on the ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court (Al Bahlul v. United States), which held that material support for terrorism is not an offense that the military commission could try.

David Hicks, a former Guantanamo prisoner was convicted by the military commission of this offense but now that conviction has been quashed. He is innocent. His lawyer Stephen Kenny said that the decision confirms that Mr Hicks’ actions were not illegal. “He wasn’t doing anything that was a breach of Australian, international or US law. US civilian courts have ruled that the charge of providing material support for terrorism cannot be considered a war crime in cases that were brought for actions before 2006, when new laws were adopted.”

US civilian courts have ruled that the charge of providing material support for terrorism cannot be considered a war crime in cases that were brought for actions before 2006, when new laws were adopted.”

Omar Khadr was also ‘convicted’ of providing material support, and like David HIcks was told that he had no appeal rights as part of the plea deal. Now it’s clear that appeal rights have not been extinguished, rather they continue to exist.

Nate Whitling, Omar’s lawyer suggested that the ruling could help Omar’s U.S. appeal and stated that “(The) decision in the David Hicks case is important to Omar Khadr’s appeal before the same court. Essentially, it confirms that the form of waiver signed by Omar as part of his plea deal is invalid, and that he may appeal all five of his ‘convictions’.”

Sam Morison, Pentagon appointed lawyer is currently appealing all of Omar’s ‘convictions‘. This challenge has been delayed by other appeals in the system, nevertheless we are hopeful that Omar’s innocence will also be established.

In light of this US appeal and other decisions which have successfully negated the legitimacy of the military commission, Omar’s lawyers have requested bail. The bail hearing is set for March 24-25 in Edmonton. Let’s hope that justice and fairness will prevail for Omar.


Here is a listing of media articles as well as the Hicks decision:

 


 

The Omar Khadr case | The worst thing is that we bequeath this legacy to our children

By Hazel Gabe, member Free Omar Khadr Now – Committee | February 2015


Canada has “fallen into lawlessness,” says Omar Khadr’s lawyer. And we are all culpable.

At a talk at Carleton University on Feb. 4th 2015, renowned human rights lawyer Dennis Edney gave a call to action against what he described as Canada’s descent beyond the rule of law. The treatment of Omar Khadr by the Canadian government is not only about the torture and abuse of one young

Canadian – as if this were not bad enough. It is also an abuse of our collective rights – and the foundations of our society.

Omar Khadr was imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay at fifteen years old. He spent a decade in Guantanamo before facing the US Military Commission’s spurious kangaroo court process, which allowed evidence obtained under torture and retroactively applied crimes, thus failing the most basic tests of a fair court. The charges themselves were not legally recognized war crimes, but rather were crimes invented by the US government. Yet Canada continues to imprison Khadr based on this process.

Speaking to a full house of students, faculty and members of the public, Edney made an entreaty for Canadians to speak up against the erosion of the rule of law in this country. He spoke, he said, not only as a lawyer, but as a father who had been profoundly changed by what he witnessed at Guantanamo.

Omar Khadr is a native of Toronto and was in Afghanistan with his family in 2002, aged fifteen, when the compound he had been left at by his father was attacked by US forces.

Omar was severely wounded in the air bombardment, riddled with shrapnel and blinded in one eye. While he was in this condition, a US Special Forces soldier shot him twice in the back – a war crime in itself under the Geneva Conventions. Within days of being shot, while still in critical condition and bleeding from gaping bullet wounds in his chest, he was subject to torture by US military personnel. It was at this point he was accused of having killed an American soldier. Interrogators tied him in painful stress positions to aggravate his wounds, hung him by his wrists for hours on end, and subjected him to a litany of other cruel, degrading, and inhumane treatment.

Omar’s torture is now a matter of public record, Edney pointed out on Wednesday, citing legal documents such as Omar’s affidavit, the testimony of Omar’s interrogators themselves and of other prisoners held with him. Omar’s chief interrogator, Sgt. Joshua Claus, later pled guilty to crippling two prisoners and murdering two others who died after his interrogations. Edney described that in his own personal interviews with Claus, the man confessed that he had never been harder on anyone than he was on Omar.

It is under these conditions that Omar made his “confession.” This was the only evidence against him, and to this day he is still imprisoned in Canada based on it.

Omar’s decade of imprisonment and torture in Guantanamo was illegal under international and Canadian laws, but was allowed to continue by the Canadian government. The first duty of a government is to the safety of its citizens, and especially its children. But instead of providing consular assistance and requesting his repatriation, as did all other Western democracies for their citizens at “Gitmo,” the Canadian government actively took advantage of Omar’s situation to contribute to his further torture and indefinite detention.

During his talk, Edney described the Military Commission Process at Guantanamo as a “pantomime court.” It is widely known in Canada that Omar was offered a plea deal. It was one he was coerced by circumstances to take. “He didn’t want to plead guilty,” says Edney. “He didn’t want to go back to Canada as a ‘terrorist’.”

Had he not signed, according to the Pentagon, even if the commission ruled him innocent he could still have faced a lifetime of imprisonment at Guantanamo.

Make no mistake that the Canadian government knows all the details of Khadr’s torture and abuses, Edney says. The Supreme Court of Canada has agreed. On the two occasions it’s seen the case, in 2008, and again in 2010, it ruled that the Canadian Government was complicit in the violations of Omar’s Geneva and Charter rights.

Yet Omar remains imprisoned. Since coming to Canada, he has spent months in solitary confinement, or in danger from the prisoners around him thanks to having been classified a maximum security risk by the Canadian government, against the advice of American officials. He has not had access to the medical care he needs, and is currently losing the vision in his remaining eye.

All this speaks to the abandoning of fundamental principles of justice that have been in place since the 1700s – the right to habeas corpus, to escape guilt and fear by association – as well as principles enshrined in the Geneva conventions, the declaration of human rights, and the declaration on the rights of the child. It is this that Mr. Edney referred to in decrying the failure of the rule of law in this country.

“There is no greater betrayal of Canada than for our government to be implicated in the torture of a Canadian citizen,” Edney said. He placed the burden on all Canadians for failing to make their government take responsibility. His talk could have been called “the evils of apathy,” he said, urging the audience to speak up about the injustices and not to settle for a society that makes decisions based on fear.

“When we are ruled by fear in society, it is then that we fall into lawlessness… [and it is] precisely one of the aims of terrorism to create a climate of fear.”

Edney continued that if this can happen to one young boy, who should have been guaranteed all sorts of protections, protections as a citizen, and child, it can happen to any of us.

The rule of law must be applied to everyone or it means nothing. This is the foundation of our society. And if the rule of law means nothing, none of us are safe.

“Worse, far worse,” said Edney, “we bequeath this social legacy to our children.”

 


To support Dennis Edney in the legal challenges to Free Omar Khadr, please go to: FREE OMAR KHADR NOW FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN


also read: Omar Khadr, The Inconvenient Truth, by John Osborn, Dean of Cartleton University

 

 

 

 

Op-ed by Omar Khadr on National Security & Human Rights

Op-ed by Omar Khadr, Bowden Prison Canada | 2014 10 28

27 Omar KhadrTen years ago the Canadian government established a judicial inquiry into the case of Maher Arar. That inquiry, over the course of more than two years of ground-breaking work, examined how Canada’s post-Sept. 11 security practices led to serious human rights violations, including torture.

At that same time, 10 years ago and far away from a Canadian hearing room, I was mired in a nightmare of injustice, insidiously linked to national security. I have not yet escaped from that nightmare.

As Canada once again grapples with concerns about terrorism, my experience stands as a cautionary reminder. Security laws and practices that are excessive, misguided or tainted by prejudice can have a devastating human toll.

A conference Wednesday in Ottawa, convened by Amnesty International, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group and the University of Ottawa, will reflect on these past 10 years of national security and human rights. I will be watching, hoping that an avenue opens to leave my decade of injustice behind.

I was apprehended by U.S. forces during a firefight in Afghanistan in July 2002. I was only 15 years old at the time, propelled into the middle of armed conflict I did not understand or want. I was detained first at the notorious U.S. air base at Bagram, Afghanistan; and then I was imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay for close to 10 years. I have now been held in Canadian jails for the past two years.

From the very beginning, to this day, I have never been accorded the protection I deserve as a child soldier. And I have been through so many other human rights violations. I was held for years without being charged. I have been tortured and ill-treated. I have suffered through harsh prison conditions. And I went through an unfair trial process that sometimes felt like it would never end.

I am now halfway through serving an eight-year prison sentence imposed by a Guantánamo military commission; a process that has been decried as deeply unfair by UN human rights experts. That sentence is part of a plea deal I accepted in 2010.

Remarkably, the Supreme Court of Canada has decided in my favour on two separate occasions; unanimously both times. Over the years, in fact, I have turned to Canadian courts on many occasions, and they have almost always sided with me. That includes the Federal Court, the Federal Court of Appeal and the Alberta Court of Appeal.

In its second judgement, the Supreme Court found that Canadian officials violated the Charter of Rights when they interrogated me at Guantánamo Bay, knowing that I had been subjected to debilitating sleep deprivation through the notorious ‘frequent flyer’ program. The Court concluded that to interrogate a youth in those circumstances, without legal counsel, “offended the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects.” That ruling was almost five years ago.

I had assumed that a forceful Supreme Court ruling, coming on top of an earlier Supreme Court win, would guarantee justice. Quite the contrary, it seemed to only unleash more injustice.

Rather than remedy the violation, the government delayed my return from Guantánamo to Canada for a year and aggressively opposed my request not to be held in a maximum security prison. It is appealing a recent Alberta Court of Appeal decision that I should be dealt with as a juvenile under the International Transfer of Offenders Act.

No matter how convincingly and frequently Canadian courts side with me, the government remains determined to deny me my rights.

I will not give up. I have a fundamental right to redress for what I have experienced.

But this isn’t just about me. I want accountability to ensure others will be spared the torment I have been through; and the suffering I continue to endure.

I hope that my experience – of 10 years ago and today – will be kept in mind as the government, Parliament and Canadians weigh new measures designed to boost national security. Canadians cannot settle for the easy rhetoric of affirming that human rights and civil liberties matter. There must be concrete action to ensure that rights are protected in our approach to national security.

National security laws and policies must live up to our national and international human rights obligations. I have come to realize how precious those obligations are.

That is particularly important when it comes to complicity in torture, which is unconditionally banned.

I have also seen how much of a gap there is in Canada when it comes to meaningful oversight of national security activities, to prevent violations.

And I certainly appreciate the importance of there being justice and accountability when violations occur.

I want to trust that the response to last week’s attacks will not once again leave human rights behind. Solid proof of that intention would be for the government to, at a minimum, end and redress the violations I have endured.


Originally published: Khadr: Misguided security laws take a human toll by Omar Khadr, Ottawa Citizen | 2014 10 28

Written in the context of the event: Arar +10: National Security and Human Rights a Decade Later | 2014 10 29


Gail Davidson of Lawyers’ Rights Watch Slams CBC Coverage of Omar Khadr

By Gail Davidson, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada

Attention CBC Ombudsperson;

Re: CBC’s Reply to Kathleen Ruff’s complaint on the Omar Khadr case reporting by CBC

Omar Khadr did not ‘plead guilty’, was not charged with ‘crimes’ and has never been ‘sentenced.’

The terms, ‘plead guilty’, ‘crimes’ and ‘sentenced’ are all words understood by Canadians to refer to widely known concepts that are the underpinnings of our criminal law system. Crimes are violations of statutory penal law; a guilty plea is the accused’s freely and voluntarily given confession in open court, to the crime(s) with which he has been charged; sentencing is the judgment made by a court after an accused is convicted in accordance with law. The term ‘court’ refers to a competent, impartial and independent tribunal mandated to conduct a fair hearing, according to law, and in open court. In the Omar Khadr case there were no charges no court, no guilty plea.

Imposition of sentence, as done by the Guantanamo Bay military tribunal, “without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized people” is a grave breach (i.e. a crime) of the Geneva Conventions and a crime in Canada.

By using these terms the CBC invited listeners to accept a description of what has transpired in the Omar Khadr case that is not only misleading but wholly false. This in turn promotes acceptance of what the law forbids absolutely, violations of rights by state authorities coupled with denial of remedies. CBC has a duty in all its reporting, to accurately convey and honour the meaning of these important words and the principles of fundamental justice they represent in our legal system: principles upon which we all depend.

I would be pleased to provide correct legal information to CBC and to contribute to fair, accurate and balanced reporting by the CBC on the Omar Khadr case.

Gail Davidson
Lawyer’s Rights Watch Canada – LRWC
3220 West 13th Avenue
Vancouver, BC CANADA, V6K 2V5
Tel: +1-604 736-1175
Fax: +1-604 736-1170
Skype: gail.davidson.lrwc
Email: lrwc@portal.ca
Website: http://www.lrwc.org

Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) is a committee of lawyers who promote human rights and the rule of law internationally by protecting advocacy rights. LRWC campaigns for advocates in danger because of their human rights advocacy, engages in research and education and works in cooperation with other human rights organizations. LRWC has Special Consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

Fund to Help Free Omar Khadr

PLEASE HELP DENNIS EDNEY, OMAR’S PRO BONO LAYWER FOR 10 YEARS, TO FREE OMAR.

To make a donation you have the following options:

  • 2) By Cheque, you can send to: Free Omar Khadr Now Committee P.O. Box 57112 RPO East Hastings Street Vancouver, V5K 1Z0 B.C. Canada (Please enclose your email address)
  • 3) By Bank Deposit/Interac e-transfer: Free Omar Khadr Now Committee VanCity Credit Union, Branch 13 Account number: 531590 freeomarkhadrnow@gmail.com

 

“I went into Guantanamo Bay as a lawyer and I came out as a broken father.” – Dennis Edney


To hear Dennis Edney speak about Omar, you can watch:


 

 

Dallaire says bye to Senate, will advocate for child soldiers like Khadr

Print Article [+]

Romeo Dallaire Omar KhadrOn the occasion of Senator Roméo Dallaire’s announcement that he is leaving the Senate, the Free Omar Khadr Now Campaign would like to thank him for his unwavering support for Omar Khadr and his strong moral convictions in speaking up for the rule of law and human decency.

Not many in our government have had the courage to speak on behalf of Omar Khadr who continues to be unlawfully imprisoned.

Thank you Romeo Dallaire, you are a true hero in every sense.


Roméo Dallaire spoke out in the Senate (June 29, 2012) about the abuse and mistreatment of Omar. He said the following:

Honourable senators, I am rising now to put on the record the case of the only child soldier prosecuted for war crimes.

Canada has been the world leader in drafting and promoting the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, specifically addressing child soldiers. This convention entered into force in 2002 and has been signed by 130 countries.

That same year, Canada again led the charge in developing that optional protocol, and now 150 countries have signed to it. This protocol prohibits the use and recruitment of children under the age of 18 in armed conflict. The Optional Protocol led to the drafting of the Paris Principles, which clearly established the definition of a child soldier. I have read this definition in the chamber previously, but I wish to do so again simply to remind us:

Any person under 18 years of age who is compulsorily, forcibly or voluntarily recruited —

Of course, in conflict zones, the term “voluntary” is questionable.

— or used in hostilities by any kind of armed forces or groups in any capacity, including, but not limited to, soldiers, cooks, porters, messengers, sex slaves, bush wives and those accompanying such groups. It includes girls recruited for sexual purposes and forced marriage. It does not, therefore, refer exclusively to a child who is carrying or has carried arms.

Imagine, honourable senators, that you are a 13-year-old boy. For your whole life your family has moved around, never settling for very long. You live in a culture where your father is never questioned. If he says “Jump,” you ask “How high?” No matter what he asks you to do, you comply. You are barely an adolescent; you cannot fully grasp the meaning or consequences of your tasks. You live in a country where armed conflict surrounds you. Listening to your father is, in fact, your survival.

Your father sends you to live and work with his associates. He tells you to stay there and to listen to what you are told. As you are working one day, the compound you are in comes under attack by U.S. Special Forces. In the firefight frenzy, you are shot three times. Then you are wrenched from the rubble and accused of killing an American soldier. It is 2002, you are 15 years old, and your name is Omar Khadr.

To produce a professional soldier, the minimum standard in NATO is about one year. That is a basic infantryman. To produce a Special Forces soldier, the minimum time and experience is four years of service, plus up to another year to year and a half of special training.

This compound was first, as we say, softened up by air attacks, bombed by 500-kilogram bombs from the air, and then assaulted by a full-fledged Delta Special Force, which Omar Khadr finds himself in the middle of.

Today, honourable senators, I speak about the case of Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen and former child soldier currently held in prison at Guantanamo Bay. It is my intention to speak about the nightmares this now man has suffered, the failures of our government to protect him, and the immediate necessity for this government to sign the transfer agreement and bring Omar back home.

It is believed that during the firefight, Omar Khadr threw a grenade, killing Sergeant Christopher Speer, a Delta Force strategic forces soldier and special forces medic. He was sent to the Americans’ notorious Bagram prison. Once identified, the Canadian government sought and was denied consular access.

In September 2002, Foreign Affairs sent a diplomatic note to the U.S. Department of State. The note made three points.

  • First, there was “ambiguity as to the role Mr. Khadr may have played” in the battle of July 27, 2002.
  • Second, Guantanamo Bay “would not be an appropriate place for Mr. Omar Khadr to be detained,” since “under various laws of Canada and the United States,” his age provided “for special treatment of such persons with respect to legal or judicial processes.”
  • Finally, the diplomatic note went on to ask for “discussions between appropriate officials on Mr. Khadr prior to any decisions being taken with respect to his future status and detention.”

In spite of our government’s concerns, Omar was transferred to Guantanamo Bay, where he has remained a prisoner for the last 10 years. Despite the best efforts of the truth, what has followed in the last 10 years has been a nightmare for this ex-child soldier, a stain upon our society, and a fundamental reproach upon our respect for international law and conventions that we have signed.

We have since learned that after being hospitalized at Bagram, this seriously injured 15-year-old was pulled off his stretcher onto the floor and his head was covered with a bag while dogs barked in his face. Cold water was thrown on him; he was forced to stand for hours with his hands tied above his head and to carry heavy buckets of water to aggravate his wounds. He was threatened with rape, and bright lights were shone on his injured eyes. In fact, he has lost one eye.

We have learned that, while prepping him for American and Canadian interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, this boy was subjected to further tortures, such as extreme sleep deprivation and endless hours of standing up, designed to exhaust him. After being held without charge for three years, Omar is charged by the U.S. as an “enemy combatant” in November 2005 and put to trial through the Military Commissions Act.

During the 10 years that this nightmare has gone on, we have realized that the most serious violations of Khadr’s rights have been covered up—violations of the right to due process, the right to protection from torture, the right to protection from arbitrary imprisonment, the right to protection from retroactive prosecution, the right to a fair trial, the right to confidential legal representation at the appropriate time and place, the right to be tried by an independent and impartial tribunal, the right to habeas corpus, the right to equality before the law and the rights stemming from the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The status of child means that the person concerned is unable to understand the world into which he was thrown. The need to protect and take care of children has always been the code of humanity. The use of child soldiers is a violation of that code. The status of child soldier means that the person concerned is subject to the most atrocious form of indoctrination, to physical and psychological torture and to the most poignant mental poverty into which an innocent child can be thrust.

For too long, we have done nothing. We must remember that the substance of the Khadr case involves children’s rights. In this type of case, we must demonstrate wisdom, compassion and a true willingness to take into account the overall context and remember that all children have inalienable rights, even if they or their families have done things of which we disapprove. These rights are meaningless if we respect them only selectively.

When the military commission in Guantanamo dismissed the charges on a technicality in June 2007, the Government of Canada could have exerted pressure to have Omar repatriated, particularly given the Kafkaesque possibility that the United States government would, as it had promised, appeal the decision before a tribunal that had yet to be set up.

I went to Washington to talk to members of Congress, the Senate and the State Department. They said that the only entity refusing to go ahead with Omar’s departure was the Pentagon, backed by the Canadian government’s lack of action.

From the outset, the U.S. administration adopted rules as the need arose whereas Canada’s representatives shirked their responsibilities towards a citizen. The charges of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, material support for terrorism and espionage under the Military Commission Act are reiterated in the appeal.

While Omar was waiting for his trial to begin in Guantanamo Bay, the Canadian courts studied his case. In May 2008, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Canada’s representatives had violated Omar Khadr’s rights, which were guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, when he was illegally interrogated in 2003.

The court ordered that the fruits of the interrogations sent to the American authorities be disclosed to Omar. Canada complied with the order to disclose the information, but it has done nothing to put an end to this nightmare.

In January 2010, once again, the Supreme Court of Canada concluded that the Government of Canada had continued to infringe Omar’s rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, finding that the treatment Omar was subjected to offended the most basic Canadian standards. The court stopped short of ordering the government to repatriate Omar, because of the Crown’s prerogative over foreign affairs.

Therefore, the situation is focused specifically on the Crown.

The government sent a diplomatic note to the United States to ask the Americans not to use the fruits of the Canadian interrogation. This was nothing but a symbolic gesture that did nothing to compensate for the serious, fundamental violation of Omar’s rights by Canadian agents.

In August 2010, Omar Khadr’s trial started in Guantanamo Bay, even though he was a child soldier. He decided to plead guilty because he wanted a chance to live. Ultimately, he is the one who took responsibility.

Canada was intimately involved in the pre-trial plea deals and negotiations. In October 2010, Canada committed to return Omar to complete his sentence in Canada after he served one additional year in Guantánamo Bay.

On November 1, 2010, in the House of Commons, then Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon said that Canada will implement this deal; yet, eight months later, he was eligible to return to Canada and we have seen nothing from the government. Why the delay?

This government has turned what should have been a technical, bureaucratic decision into a political game, a political football. The Americans have held up their end of the deal. Omar Khadr has held up his end of the deal. The Americans have signed his release, dated April 16, so that the Canadian government can take him and incarcerate him in appropriate establishments in this country in order that he can receive, as other prisoners do, rehabilitation and reintegration into our society. Why is the Canadian government refusing to follow through on its word? If this is a political decision, what is the political impediment for bringing him here?

The U.S. government is not known for being soft on terrorism. The U.S. would never agree to transfer a detainee, especially to an ally, if they believed that that detainee was in any way a threat.

He will not be walking the streets; he will be going to a Canadian prison. Despite this, our government continues to stonewall the United States’ efforts to return Omar Khadr to Canada. In fact, the Canadian specialist or technocrat in Washington refused to meet with the Americans to even start discussing the details of how to bring him back, under what means and under whose control.

The Minister of Public Safety tells us that the matter is under consideration. That is not a particularly good response. Perhaps, as Mr. Khadr’s Canadian lawyers have said, the minister thinks that it has not been that long, but the minister has not been in Guantánamo Bay for a decade under less than appropriate conditions, even compared to our jails. The minister does not sit shackled to a floor waiting for the decision to return him to Canada. Khadr does.

There is a great deal of frustration in the American government towards Canada. Not only is the patience of our closest ally wearing thin, but the world has been watching Canada’s missteps in this case. Just this month, the UN Committee against Torture in its report urged Canada to promptly approve Omar Khadr’s transfer application. Canada’s reputation as a defender of human rights continues to be sullied the longer this process and his detention in Guantánamo Bay continue. It is a simple fact of fulfilling a promise; you either sign the deal and you implement it, or you go against the deal and lose your credibility as being a fair negotiator with your closest ally.

As Omar Khadr’s defence lawyer put it last week in a press conference:

The United States and Canada are supposed to be the good guys. We’re supposed to be the people that the other places in the world who are looking for freedom look at for how things are supposed to be done the right way. We’re supposed to stand for human rights, dignity and the rule of law. The cornerstone of the foundation on which the rule of law is built is honouring your agreements.

Canada must honour the agreement it has with Omar Khadr and return him immediately to Canada. There are all kinds of planes waiting to bring him back. There is a whole program already in place through the university in Edmonton where he has already commenced his rehabilitation while incarcerated in Guantánamo Bay.

There can be no doubt, and I conclude, that the case of Omar Khadr taints this government, this country and all of its citizens. Our credibility in attempting to extricate, demobilize, rehabilitate and reintegrate child soldiers, as I recently was doing in the Congo and South Sudan, is affected by the fact that we are not playing by the rules that we have instituted and want other people to play by. They are not stupid. They know we are not playing by the rules. It was put into my face that the Khadr case is an example where we sign the papers, we even make deals with our allies, but we do not have the guts to implement them.

 

 

 

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