2015 | Message from Dennis Edney Lawyer for Omar Khadr


A MESSAGE FROM DENNIS EDNEY Q.C., Lawyer for Omar Khadr | February 2015 Omar is now 28 years old and July 2015 will mark the 13th anniversary of his imprisonment. In 2014 we were successful in persuading the Alberta Court of Appeal that Omar’s U.S. sentence was a juvenile sentence, and therefore he should be transferred to a provincial institution where he can access the benefits of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. The Conservative government appealed the decision of the Alberta Court of Appeal. In doing so, it continued a pattern of challenging every decision favourable to Omar Khadr over the past ten years which resulted in millions of dollars in costs at the expense of the Canadian taxpayer. The Supreme Court will hear the appeal on May 14, 2015.

On March 24 and 25, 2015 a two day bail application will be heard by the Queen’s Bench of Alberta. We are requesting Omar be released pending the outcome of his appeal in the United States. This application is opposed by the Conservative government on the basis Canadian courts lack jurisdiction.

In June 2015, we will be applying for Omar’s parole. We have formally put the warden on notice that he is obligated under the Act to make a security assessment of Omar. Refusal to do so makes Omar’s chances of parole somewhat grim. Both the Corrections ombudsman and Omar’s parole officer have recommended he be classified as a minimum risk. In the event Omar’s parole is denied, we will file for a judicial review of its decision.

In addition to the above work, we continue to publicize Omar’s plight while fighting for his rights within the prison. Omar remains in the Bowden Institution, a medium security prison in Innisfail, Alberta. He is going blind from lack of treatment in Canadian detention. The U.S. attack in 2002 left Omar blind in his left eye and with shrapnel lodged in his right eye. While in U.S. detention he was not provided treatment to save his sight. Now the vision in his right eye is rapidly deteriorating and without treatment, permanent blindness is inevitable. Within days of filing a court application requesting that Omar receive immediate medical treatment for his right eye, we were informed that an appointment had been set up for Omar to see a specialist. We continue to need your help and ask you to support the Free Omar Khadr 2015 fundraising campaign which has a goal of $50,000. This money goes directly to Omar’s defence with no administration fees. Your contribution makes his defence possible.   With warm regards from Omar and myself, Dennis Edney Q.C.


TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE FREE OMAR KHADR NOW 2015 FUND, 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.

 


Photograph by Richard K. Wolff


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

 

 

 

 

Newsletter Free Omar Khadr Now | Jan – Feb 2015


Recent 2015 articles in the media about Omar :


Christian university in Edmonton offers spot to Omar Khadr | CBC As it Happens, with Carol Off & Jeff Douglas, Feb 5, 2015Melanie Humphries

Listen to radio interview here →

“We seek to serve community and society to bring about reconcilation,” university president Melanie Humphries tells As It Happens guest host Laura Lynch. “We really feel that society increasingly has become about retribution and fear.” She adds that about 30 per cent of the university’s students don’t identify as Christian.

Humphries, who has spent time with Khadr, says he has been wrongly portrayed in the media — and by the federal government — as a terrorist and a jihadist. “My impression of him is that he’s an articulate, thoughtful, non-radicalized individual,” she says.

Continue reading →


Edmonton university has no qualms offering Omar Khadr a spot | Video by Chris Purdy, Feb 4, 2015

Watch video →

King’s University in Edmonton says offering Omar Khadr admission is the right thing to do. The Christian-principled school is giving the former Guantanamo Bay inmate a spot as part of his bail application to be heard next month.


Educating Omar Khadr: ‘Just doing what we do,’ Christian university saysBy Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press, Feb 4, 2015

Dan Vankeeken“This completely matches what we’re about: Our mission is about inspiring and educating learners to be agents of reconciliation and renewal,” Dan VanKeeken, the school’s vice-president, said in an interview in Toronto this week.
“We don’t have a position on Omar. We’re just doing what we do.”
Khadr, 28, pleaded guilty in 2010 before a widely maligned U.S. military commission to five war crimes he was accused of committing as a 15-year-old in Afghanistan in July 2002. He is now serving out the rest of his eight-year sentence in Bowden, Alta,. as a medium security prisoner.
He is applying for bail — to be heard in March — pending an appeal of his conviction based on U.S. legal rulings that what he did was not a war crime under either international or American law.

Continue reading →


Omar Khadr applies for bail | By Michelle Shephard, Toronto Star, Feb 03 2015

Kings UniversityA Christian university in Edmonton has offered to admit former Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr if he wins his bid for freedom next month after 12 years in custody.
“What better way to prepare someone for success in life than with education,” said Dan Vankeeken, vice-president of The King’s University, in an interview Tuesday as he visited Toronto.
Although the Khadr case has been highly politicized and has divided Canadians, Vankeeken says the university’s decision has been well received by the community.

Continue reading →


Omar Khadr hopes to restart his life in EdmontonBy Caley Ramsay, Global News, Jan 31, 2015

27 Omar grijs langwerpig“He’s a bright, intelligent, dedicated student and there’s a good number of faculty that have been in a relationship with him,” said Humphreys. “We feel like it was pretty much a logical step.”
Khadr’s Canadian lawyer Dennis Edney said the Toronto-born Khadr would live with him in Edmonton.
Khadr’s bail hearing is set for March 24. It will be his first attempt at freedom since his return from a notorious U.S. Prison in Cuba where he was held for eight years.
“It’s becoming clearer and clearer in the United States from recent cases that Omar’s convictions are invalid,” his lawyer, Nate Whitling, told the Canadian Press last week.

Continue reading →


Khadr hopes to study at Edmonton university, live with lawyer’s family | By Sheila Pratt, Edmonton Journal, Jan 30, 2015

Omar Khadr will be offered a place at King’s University as a mature student and he will receive help from several agencies and citizens to integrate into the community, according documents filed in court Friday for a bail hearing.

In his affidavit, Khadr, 28, sets out his hopes to stay Edmonton, study at King’s, join an interfaith community and play some pickup games of soccer in the neighbourhood if he is released on bail this spring.

Continue reading →


Omar Khadr seeks bail pending US appeal of war crime convictionBy Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press, Jan 23, 2015Omar Khadr

TORONTO – Former Guantanamo Bay inmate Omar Khadr is seeking bail pending disposition of his appeal in the United States against his disputed conviction for war crimes. The bail hearing, set for March 24, would be Khadr’s first attempt at freedom since his return from a notorious U.S. prison in Cuba where he was held for eight years.
“It’s becoming clearer and clearer in the United States from recent cases that Omar’s convictions are invalid,” his lawyer, Nate Whitling, said from Edmonton on Friday. “The Court of Military Commission Review is simply taking too long to state the obvious, and so it’s time for Omar to be released.”

Continue reading →


From Omar Khadr and Guantanamo to the Rule of Law in an Age of Terror | Feb 4

Lawyer Dennis Edney to Speak at Carleton University

Schermafbeelding 2015-01-28 om 18.14.08Dennis Edney, lawyer for Omar Khadr for more than 10 years, will give a lecture at Carleton University on Feb. 4, 2015 called From Omar Khadr and Guantanamo to the Rule of Law in an Age of Terror.

Edney will discuss Omar Khadr, Guantanamo and the unconstitutional setting in which Omar was ‘convicted’ as a ‘war criminal’. Human rights experts decried the process as deeply flawed. According to Edney, the case raises serious concerns about the rule of law, citizenship and human rights embedded in the Geneva conventions and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

When: Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Azrieli Theatre 101, Carleton University
Parking: Lot 1 (behind MacOdrum Library)
For additional information: louise.de.la.gorgendiere@carleton.ca
Note: Seating is limited

About Dennis Edney:
Edney is a well-known defense lawyer who has acted pro bono for Omar Khadr for more than 10 years. He has appeared at all levels of court on Khadr’s behalf, including the Supreme Court of Canada and the United States Supreme Court. He has received a number of human rights and other awards for his legal work, and he is a bencher of the Law Society of Alberta.

About Omar Khadr: 
Printable Factsheet Omar Khadr

Media Inquiries:
Chris Cline
Media Relations Officer
Carleton University
613-520-2600, ext. 1391
christopher_cline@carleton.ca

 

Khadr argues U.S. judge violating federal law

By Colin Perkel — Nov 6 2014

TORONTO – The judge presiding over Omar Khadr’s challenge to his conviction by U.S. military commission may himself be committing a federal crime by maintaining a law practice, according to allegations contained in new court documents.

In an unusual application to the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit this week, lawyers for the former Guantanamo Bay prisoner call for Judge William (Bill) Pollard to be thrown off the panel dealing with the Canadian’s appeal.

They argue that two federal statutes — one dating back 200 years — clearly prohibit a judge from continuing to work as a lawyer.

“Khadr has a right to a properly qualified court,” Sam Morison, Khadr’s Pentagon-appointed lawyer, said from Washington.

“If there’s a disqualified judge, that undermines any decision that they make.”

Read the full article here > http://www.nationalnewswatch.com/2014/11/06/khadr-argues-u-s-judge-violating-federal-law/#.VFyQGPnF8Tu

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


Omar Khadr wins right to sue government for conspiring with US to torture him

The recent decision of Justice Mosley approving Omar’s Amended Statement of Claim (technically the Amended, Amended, Amended Fresh as Amended) marks a recognition that the acts of Canada in relation to Omar’s treatment in Guantanamo Bay need a far greater level of scrutiny than we had previously considered.27 Omar Khadr

To be clear, Justice Mosley’s approval of the Amended Statement of Claim makes no decision about whether or not Canada acted badly in its dealings with Omar while he was captive. But while the earlier versions of the Claim focused on the events surrounding Omar’s interrogation at the hands of Canadian officials, the new version looks back to when Omar was first captured, and includes the time right up to his return to Canada.

This opens up the door to a much broader evaluation of Canada’s actions and will allow the court to answer fundamental questions about the relationship between Canada and the US. Was there a conspiracy to hold Omar captive or to otherwise abuse his rights? Did Canada have a responsibility to pay closer attention to Omar’s treatment while in Guantanamo Bay? Did Canada have a duty not to assist the US authorities’ prosecution of Omar? These and other questions will now be in front of the Court as this case goes forward.

This success is not the end of the story. But perhaps with this new Statement of Claim we are one step closer to getting a full telling of Omar’s time from capture to today and the extent to which our Government participated in that process.

A copy of the Order of Justice Mosley can be found by clicking the following link: Khadr v. Canada, October 23, 2014


Source: Khadr’s Amended Statement of Claim Receives Court Sanction by Phillips Gill LLP | 2014 Oct 24


More on the matterOmar Khadr wins right to to expand $20M suit vs. Canadian government by Colin Perkel, Canadian Press | 2014 Oct 23


 

The Education of Omar Khadr

In the November issue of Walrus magazine, readers can learn more about the personal life of Omar Khadr through the eyes of his volunteer teachers, in particular Arlette Zinck, Professor of English from Kings College University Edmonton. Up to now, Canadians have never hear Khadr tell his own story as the Canadian government has refused all requests from the media to interview him.

Here are a few excerpts from that article:

“Also out of the ordinary that day: the teacher-student roles had been reversed, and Khadr was instructing Zinck. The prisoner had a math final coming up, one of three remaining grade eleven courses, and he needed practice. “He’s a natural science guy,” she explained a few weeks later, when I met her at her house. Math energizes him; it is a more purposeful and logical discipline than literature, sociology, or law. Zinck, on the other hand, is more comfortable discussing John Bunyan and William Shakespeare—“How absolute the knave is!”—rather than absolute numbers”

“She soaked the lessons in CanLit classics, representing every province and territory—from BC’s Obasan, Joy Kogawa’s story of Japanese internment camp survivors, to PEI’s Anne of Green Gables . “If you’re dreaming of home,” she said, “we’ll structure it around a collection of novels about home.”.

“If he were a university student of mine, he would be in the top 5 percent,” said David Goa, director of the University of Alberta’s Chester Ronning Centre for the Study of Religion and Public Life. Zinck asked Goa to teach the prisoner-student about the intersections of faith and science. “I left thinking that this young man, somehow, by the grace of God, has turned prison into a monastery,” Goa recalled.


Read the full article by Omar Mouallem in the November issue of Walrus magazine: The Education of Omar Khadr: A student and teacher cultivate an unlikely friendship


CBC Coverage of Omar Khadr has Misrepresented the Truth

By Kathleen Copps, Free Omar Khadr Now Committee | October 03, 2014


To Esther Enkin, CBC Ombudsperson

Re: CBC Ombudsperson’s Response to Kathleen Ruff

 

Dear Ms. Enkin:

From its very title, “The Contentious Case of Omar Khadr”, your dismissal of Kathleen Ruff’s complaint reflects an erroneous assumption that details of the case are open to legitimate debate. This opinion is further revealed in your statement: “It is unrealistic, and not required by policy, to provide all sides of an issue in one short radio news script.” A request for factual reporting cannot be dismissed as one side of an issue.

Kathleen Ruff (former  B.C. Human Rights Commissioner) rightly claimed that by referring to Omar Khadr as “a Canadian who pleaded guilty in a U.S. military court to war-crimes charges”, the CBC ignored crucial facts and thereby contributed to misleading and biased reporting. The terms “pleaded guilty”, U.S. military ‘court’ (in fact, there was no court; only an extra-judicial military ‘commission’) and “war crimes” all imply a lawful legal process-which Omar Khadr was denied. A news item which refers to a guilty ‘plea’ without mention of its inadmissibility in a Canadian court, is grossly misleading and disreputable reporting. You quote Jack Nagler (Director of Journalistic Public Accountability and Engagement) that: “Breaking news is not the place for context or nuance”. We agree. It is therefore particularly critical that ‘breaking news’ be scrupulously accurate and not carelessly convey information in direct contrast to the truth. In any case, Omar Khadr’s legal status cannot be considered a part of breaking news. As you pointed out, you have had 12 years to familiarize yourself with the illegalities surrounding the case.

By leaving out essential details (for example: the illegitimacy of the military commission, use of torture to obtain information and extract confessions, violations of Canadian and International guarantees for due process etc) the CBC presented another  misrepresentation of the facts. How can a news article which highlights Omar’s “guilty plea” not point out that the procedure was a judicial sham, a U.S. military kangaroo court deemed illegal by both the U.S. Supreme Court and the Geneva Conventions,  that he had been tortured, that he was 15 when he was taken captive, that the Canadian Supreme Court has found our government to have been complicit in the violation of his fundamental rights and that the UN Committee against Torture has ruled that Canada redress the violation of those rights?

You rejected Ruff’s complaint because: “Practically speaking, it’s impossible to include all or even a good part of that disputed and often contradictory information in one brief radio news report.” Ms. Ruff did not request that contradictory information be included in your report: ironically, it was her request for the facts that you dismissed.

The stronger one’s convictions about an issue, the stronger the conviction that one’s views should be emphatically reflected.” How disturbing that the CBC, our national public broadcaster, can reduce Ruff’s insistence that the international right to a fair trial and freedom from torture, are merely her personal and subjective “views”. How can we then differentiate your news organization – with its mandate to inform and enlighten Canadians – from other media outlets with much less lofty goals? Why should we care about the future of the CBC if it is not committed to reasonable and accurate reporting in a case that according to Constance Blackstone (Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Ottawa) enshrines the defining moment of our time.

Your rejection of Kathleen Ruff’s complaint is highly troubling because it attests to the fact that the CBC does not appreciate either the unique nature of this case or its relevance for the future of human rights in Canada. A young Canadian, the only Westerner to be released from Guantanamo and imprisoned in his native country, is, two years later, still behind bars and subjected to overt government intervention to keep him there. The fact that you see the case as “contentious” is because CBC has abrogated its responsibility to “inform and enlighten” citizens regarding our government’s complicity in the detainment and torture of a juvenile, their defiance of a unanimous vote of parliament, their refusal to abide by a Supreme Court ruling, their violation of the fundamental rights of a citizen, their maintenance of an illegal incarceration and their unrelenting efforts to demonize Omar Khadr and promote irrational fears and racial bigotry

Please review your dismissal of Kathleen Ruff’s criticisms and offer some reassurance that the CBC is committed to factual reporting and not manufacturing a mythical debate which promotes a continued travesty of injustice for Omar Khadr.

Kathleen Copps,
Free Omar Khadr Now Committee


 

FREE Omar Khadr Now Campaign 

E        freeomarkhadrnow@gmail.com
W       www.freeomarakhadr.com
FB      please follow: Free Omar Khadr Now

“Some cases enshrine the defining moments of their time. Omar Khadr’s is one. Future generations will rightly judge our shocking dereliction of responsibility in this matter [and] our collective Canadian failure to extend justice and humanity.” – Constance Backhouse, Distinguished University Professor of Law, University of Ottawa.    

 


 

 

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.