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.

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:


 

 

Omar Khadr and the Validity of Guantanamo Military Commissions

By Aisha Maniar | August 31, 2014

Omar Khadr’s appeal case against his conviction by a Guantánamo Bay military commission has been the subject of court action in the U.S., both directly and indirectly, in recent weeks.

In the first instance, a redacted memo by the U.S. Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), released in June under a Freedom of Information order and dated shortly before Omar Khadr’s 2010 military commission hearing, shows that the U.S. deliberately designated Khadr an “unprivileged belligerent”. This enabled the U.S. to charge him with offences it knew did not exist under domestic or international law and to deny him protection under the Geneva Conventions.
(Gail Davidson of Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada reported on the bogus nature of the charges against Omar Khadr in detail here.)

Following this revelation, on 30 June 2014, Khadr’s legal counsel in the U.S. filed a motion with the U.S. Court of Military Commission Review (CMCR) to have the stay on Khadr’s case lifted and his conviction quashed on the basis that “the disclosure of a previously secret memorandum […] which provided authoritative legal guidance to the Department of Defense several months prior to Mr. Khadr’s guilty plea, invalidates the theory of criminality underlying this prosecution and therefore defeats the premise of the Court’s order.” The motion sets out that the memo made it clear to the U.S. authorities that there was no legal basis for the case against Omar Khadr and that the U.S. was fully aware of this.

On 7 July, counsel for the U.S. government filed a motion asking the court to deny the motion filed by Khadr’s lawyers “because there has been no change in the underlying basis” of the court’s original stay of the case in March 2014 and because the memo is “irrelevant” to Khadr’s case. However, the CMCR denied Khadr’s motion before his lawyers had an opportunity to respond. Khadr’s U.S. lawyer Sam Morison called this response predictable. As a result, according to Morison, “the issue is not going away any time soon”. Indeed.

Four months earlier, in March 2014, Khadr’s case (and that of Australian former prisoner David Hicks) was stayed by the CMCR pending a judgment in an appeal by another Guantánamo prisoner, Ali Hamza Al-Bahlul from Yemen. Bahlul had been given a life sentence in 2008 for conspiracy, providing material support for terrorism, and soliciting others to commit war crimes. Following the successful appeal by fellow Yemeni Salim Hamdan in 2012, in which Hamdan’s conviction was quashed on the basis that his offence, providing material support for terrorism, “did not constitute a war crime,” Bahlul saw his three convictions quashed in January 2013, but the U.S. government was granted a retrial en banc (whereby all the judges in the appeal court make a ruling). The judgment in this long-awaited appeal was handed down on 14 July 2014. It essentially ruled to “reject Bahlul’s ex post facto challenge to his conspiracy conviction and remand that conviction to the original panel of this Court for it to dispose of several remaining issues. In addition, we vacate his material support and solicitation convictions.”

Bahlul’s case has a knock-on effect on pending and future military commissions as well as on other appeals, such as those of Khadr and Hicks. The en banc rehearing was largely admitted on the basis that, while the U.S. government conceded that the quashed convictions of Hamdan (this ruling was also reconsidered by the seven-judge panel) and Bahlul were not recognized under the international laws of war prior to 2006, when the Military Commissions Act 2006 came into force, they were recognized under the “U.S. common law of war.” On this basis, the court quashed two of Bahlul’s convictions (material support and solicitation of others to commit war crimes), finding that the government did not provide historical evidence so that such charges could be upheld in a U.S. domestic context. But, the court decided that there was sufficient precedent in the case of conspiracy and, hence, this conviction was upheld.

Nonetheless, that does not settle this key issue or the other key point of the rehearing – whether the U.S. common law of war can provide a basis for these alleged war crimes – as the court then sent the conspiracy issue back to the three-judge panel, who heard the original appeal, to consider arguments. This granted them the possibility of overturning this ruling before the entire case is returned to the CMCR to assess the effect of the judgment on Bahlul’s life sentence. Essentially, in a confusing 150-page sentence, the court failed to settle the key questions put to it, and its judgment paves the way to further arguments and appeals.

The 4–3 decision by the seven-judge panel overhauled a major aspect of the Hamdan ruling by deeming that the Military Commissions Act 2006 can have retroactive effect. Thus it can be used to charge and try crimes committed prior to it – as it claims that the Act is unambiguously intended to try any offence punishable by it committed “before, on, or after September 11, 2001” and to prosecute individuals allegedly involved in the 9/11 attacks that took place in 2001. In spite of this, the court dismissed Bahlul’s claim on his ex post facto conspiracy conviction, finding that engaging in a conspiracy to kill a national of the United States is already criminalized under the U.S. Constitution and that a precedent for this already exists in U.S. case law.

While the court clearly established that material support and solicitation are not war crimes under international or domestic law, the decision on conspiracy is couched in such vague terms that it is not clear how it will apply to other prisoners, including Omar Khadr, who was also convicted of this charge under his secret plea bargain. Al-Bahlul’s lawyers now have the option of appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court or waiting to see what the original panel has to say on the outstanding matters. In either case, nothing will be settled before next year.

The decision was always going to be complicated and highly politicized, with the largest ramifications for Al-Bahlul himself, who even if cleared, may remain held in limbo at Guantánamo. The impact on other cases is also unclear. In Hicks’s case, the judgment should mean that his sole conviction of material support for terrorism is now quashed; his Australian lawyer has stated that overturning the conviction should now be “a purely administrative matter.” The U.S. Centre for Constitutional Rights announced that it will assist David Hicks in filing of the motion to get his Guantanamo conviction overruled.

For Omar Khadr, the implications are vaguer and indirect. While his conspiracy conviction is affected, the U.S. government has nonetheless conceded, “Khadr did not violate either a pre-existing statute or the international law of war.” Both Khadr and Hicks may have to await the final outcome in Al-Bahlul’s case, which could take years, in order for the CMCR to progress with their own appeals. The waiting game continues.

The only two things that can be concluded are that the web of deceit spun by the use of military commissions and their extralegal devices can only become further tangled, and that the procedure itself is designed only to waste the time of prisoners who the U.S. knows in many cases to be innocent of the charges against them. Responding to the judgment, the Center for Constitutional Rights, stated: “The court merely deferred the inevitable by failing to recognize that conspiracy is no more appropriately tried in a military commission than material support. We urge the Supreme Court to review today’s ruling regarding conspiracy and dispense with all fabricated war crimes charges once and for all.”

 


Aisha Maniar is a human rights activist who works with the London Guantánamo Campaign.

The London Guantánamo Campaign has been campaigning since 2006 for the release of all prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay, the closure of Guantánamo and other similar prisons and an end to the practice of extraordinary rendition.


 

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The Trials of Omar Khadr

By Aisha Maniar, Truthout | July 26, 2014

On July 27, 2002, 15-year old Canadian Omar Khadr was captured by the United States following a battle between American soldiers and local militias in Afghanistan. He was shot in the back by the soldier who found him unconscious, unarmed and face down near the compound where he was staying.

Khadr survived and was taken to the Bagram Airbase where he was held for three months, during which he was threatened with rape and other forms of physical and psychological abuse, including waterboarding. Torture evidence obtained from a child and a doctored field report would later be used to implicate Khadr in the death of a US Special Forces soldier in that battle.

He was taken to Guantánamo Bay in October 2002, where his torture continued. First charged with war crimes in 2005, Khadr’s 2010 military tribunal was unique for two reasons: It was the first one under Obama and his revised Military Commissions Act, and, more importantly, he is the only person to have been tried by military tribunal since World War II for war crimes allegedly committed as a minor.

Up against a kangaroo court and the prospect of at least a life sentence, Khadr later admitted that he agreed to plead guilty to all the charges against him in a secret plea bargain in October 2010 as it was his only way out of Guantánamo. Under the deal, Khadr was to serve one more year at Guantánamo and the remainder of his sentence – seven years – in Canada. Throughout his US incarceration, he was never once treated as a minor or a child soldier, but as an “enemy combatant.”

The Canadian government, having been found in 2010 by the Canadian Supreme Court to have acted in breach of its own human rights obligations in its treatment of Khadr, put up stiff resistance to his release, which took place almost a year later than anticipated in September 2012. A minimum security-risk prisoner at Guantánamo, he was promptly imprisoned at a maximum security facility. This risk was only downgraded by the prison board in December 2013, and he was moved to a medium-security prison in February 2014. During that period, and since his conviction, he spent almost all of his time in solitary confinement. Over the past few months, for the first time, Khadr has had access to rehabilitation and counseling.

Undeterred, Omar Khadr has been making up for lost time since his return to Canada, and then some. At Guantánamo Bay, many basic things were out of his reach, including justice. Khadr has brought court cases pending against both the United States and Canada. Over the past year, since reappointing Dennis Edney, who represented him at Guantánamo, Khadr’s quest for justice has rapidly accelerated.

Canada, on the other hand, given its abuses of him, has opted for trial by media, with Canadian politicians and journalists, none of whom have ever met Khadr, demonizing him in the public imagination. Since his return to Canada, he has more or less been completely forgotten elsewhere.

Nearly 11 years in the making, on September 23, 2013, Omar Khadr had his first real day in court when he appeared before an Edmonton court for consideration about whether he should be moved to a provincial prison to serve his sentence as a youth offender. Khadr lost that particular case. Nonetheless, it was a first public appearance and the first time he saw his supporters, who packed out the courtroom. For them, Khadr was nothing like the image portrayed by journalists who had never met him.

On appeal, appeal, on July 8, 2014, the decision was reversed in a clear judgment that stated under Canadian law the sentence could only have been a youth sentence, given his age at the time. Nonetheless, he remains where he is for now, having agreed to a stay of the decision pending an appeal by the Canadian government to the Canadian Supreme Court.

This judgment came just days after the first of two important pieces of recent news concerning Khadr’s appeal against his military commission conviction in the United States. On June 30, 2014, following the release of a secret memo that shows that the United States deliberately designated Khadr an “unprivileged belligerent” to charge him with offenses it knew did not exist under domestic or international law, Khadr’s lawyers filed a motion to have the conviction vacated. Following a counter-motion by the US government, this was dismissed.

Khadr’s appeal, filed in 2013, was stayed in March 2014 pending a decision in the retrial of an appeal by another Guantánamo prisoner, Yemeni Ali Hamza Al-Bahlul. Convicted on some similar charges to Khadr, a confusing judgment was handed down on July 14, 2014. The impact this will have on Khadr’s own appeal remains unclear, but it is likely that Khadr will have to continue to wait.

Meanwhile, in Canada, in December 2013, Khadr’s lawyers brought a second case before the courts, suing the Canadian government for damages for violations of his human rights at Bagram and Guantánamo, as well as conspiring with the United States in the violation of Canadian and international laws. This case is expected to be heard at some point in 2014.

Having abused his legal rights for over a decade, justice is not tipped in the balance of either the US or Canada. Consequently, the only case that received worldwide media attention was an application filed by the wife of the man Khadr is alleged to have killed and the soldier he is alleged to have injured suing him for damages of over $45 million in a Utah court. The case has yet to even be admitted.

Now aged 27, Omar Khadr has spent almost half his life behind bars for a crime no concrete evidence has substantiated. Unlike government lawyers, he is constantly looking forward rather than back, and it is not just in the courts Khadr has something to look forward to. For those who believe media claims that Guantánamo has superb medical facilities, it was only in March this year that Khadr received surgery to his shoulder, injured when he was shot in that fateful battle 12 years ago. Blinded in one eye that day, he has yet to receive treatment to the other eye, in which shrapnel remains lodged.

Khadr’s main concern right now is a basic right most Americans and Canadians take for granted; having been held as an adult, Khadr was never given an opportunity to study. He is currently working hard to get his high school diploma. His lawyer told me: “Omar has no bitterness; he has nothing but forgiveness.”

This view was seconded by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who called Khadr during a visit to Canada earlier this year. Regarding their conversation, he said he was “pleasantly surprised at how calm and un-bitter” Khadr sounded. “We just exchanged pleasantries. But he really impressed me in that short conversation as a gentle and sensitive person.”

It is unclear how long the United States and Canada intend to keep selling the myth of Omar Khadr as an unrepentant war criminal without any substantive evidence, but they must realize that the end game has begun and is picking up pace. Omar Khadr will never get back what he has lost, but the opportunity to tell his side of the story, denied to him for so long, is a huge step in the right direction.
Copyright, Truthout.

Link to Truthout article: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/25161-the-trials-of-alleged-tween-terrorist-omar-khadr-of-canada

Newsletter Free Omar Khadr Now | July 2014


The call for fair treatment of Omar Khadr is increasing. Read below the positive court decision and editorials, articles, readers’ letters in the newspapers about Omar Khadr | July 2014 :


Alberta Court of Appeal

statements:
“legal process and the evidence elicited from Khadr violated both the Charter and international human rights law.”
“the evidence against Khadr would have been excluded in a Canadian court. The legal process under which Khadr was held and the evidence elicited from him have been found to have violated both the Charter and international human rights law.”

read more …


Desmond Tutu: Why I Phoned Omar Khadr
By Stephen Coan, The Witness – South Africa | 10 Jul 2014

quotes:
– “It has been galling in the extreme to discover that those in other countries who even helped us overthrow our oppressive system of apartheid, should have no qualms it seems in employing the same discredited methods as those of a system they purported to oppose.”
– “a horrible miscarriage of justice in a modern democratic state.”
“The Canadian authorities would do their stature much good if they released him immediately.”
– “Omar Khadr struck me as a very gentle and caring and courteous human being who does not belong where he is at present. “

 read more …


Omar Khadr seeking the right to tell his story to reporters
By Sean Fine, The Globe and Mail | Jul. 23 2014

quote
– “Much of the Canadian Public’s impression of me comes from certain comments made by members of my family, which are untrue,” he wrote. “I was a child when I was placed in harm’s way by my father.”

read more …


Ottawa’s cruel treatment of Omar Khadr must stop
By Humera Jabir, The Star | 12 Jul 2014

quotes:
– “Why does the federal government insist on pursuing the most severe punishment for Khadr when it benefits no one and causes such harm?”…
– “The heavy-handed approach the federal government prefers will not help Khadr recover from this past.”…
– “It is clear Khadr is not the villain the federal government would like Canadians to believe he is.”…
– “Today, Khadr is working towards a high school diploma.”

read more …


Ottawa’s spiteful treatment of Omar Khadr is a travesty of justice
Star Editorial: Omar Khadr’s case has shamed Canada from start to finish | 11 Jul 2014

quotes:
– “By any stretch of the imagination Khadr has done time enough. Gov is harshly vindictive”.
– “Ottawa immediately issued its robo-response, saying it will appeal to Supreme Court to block any transfer.”

read more …


Every Canadian deserves justice. Even Omar Khadr
Globe Editorial | 9 Jul.2014

quote:
“Mr. Khadr was sentenced by a kangaroo court, one worthy of a Middle Eastern dictatorship or Kafka short story.”

read more …


Provincial jail right for Khadr
Edmonton Journal Editorial | 9 Jul 2014

quote:
“Khadr’s case is one where wrong has been piled onto wrong over the years, both in Canada and US”.

read more …
Editorials are the consensus opinion of the Journal’s editorial board comprising Margo Goodhand, Kathy Kerr, Karen Booth, Sarah O’Donnell and David Evans.


Omar Khadr one step closer to justice
By Kathleen Copps, rabble.ca | 10 Jul 2014

quotes:
– “For those who value a fair judicial system and the rule of law, it is incomprehensible that despite previous rulings in his favour, Omar is still incarcerated and fighting his way through the courts.”
– “While we celebrate the latest court victory for Omar, we know that the only just and lawful response is his immediate release from jail.”

read more …


Making Omar Khadr a millionaire
By Chris Selley, National Post | 10 Jul 2014

quotes:
– “… nothing about this case says anything good about Canada or the people who govern us.”
– “Our collective 12-year reaction to Mr. Khadr’s case shows we can be every bit as reactionary and jingoistic as any other human being — and perhaps more so, judging by other countries’ comparatively aggressive interventions on behalf of their Guantanamo inmates.
Or maybe it’s just that our politicians are uncommonly spineless. That seems plausible as well. Either way, whenever Omar Khadr gets out of jail, we all better be ready to buy him a really nice house.”

read more …


In the Khadr case, politics can’t be allowed to trump precedent
By Lloyd Axworthy, Special to The Globe and Mail | 9 Jul 2014

quote:
“This is not the first time this confrontation with the courts has happened. But this is the first time its actions have betrayed a fundamental trust that Canadians should expect from their government in the international sphere,”

read more …


One small step toward justice for Omar Khadr
By Cheryl Milne, Contributed to The Globe and Mail | 9 Jul, 2014

quote:
– “The Alberta Court of Appeal has taken a significant step toward acknowledging what the Canadian government has steadfastly refused to accept – that Omar Khadr was a young person who was entitled to special protections for his rights under Canadian and international law from the beginning.”
– “it is a blow to the Harper government’s intransigence despite successive Supreme Court decisions that have held the government in the wrong in terms of their treatment of or failure to advocate for Mr. Khadr.”

Cheryl Milne is the chair of the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children and the executive director of the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights at the University of Toronto.

read more …


READERS’ LETTERS TO NEWSPAPERS


Re: “Ottawa to appeal Khadr ruling,” in Edmonton Journal | 9 Jul, 2014

The unanimous decision by the Alberta Court of Appeal firmly rejected federal arguments to continue Omar Khadr’s imprisonment in a federal penitentiary. The federal government now intends to appeal, most likely continuing its losing streak at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Since 2008, the Harper government has been guided by unthinking support for Guantanamo and the military commissions, a blind eye to the violation of Khadr’s legal and human rights, wilful ignorance of the law and disregard for decisions by the Supreme Court.

All Canadian citizens have a right to expect their government to protect them from unlawful actions. The Alberta appeal judges noted: “The legal process under which Khadr was held and the evidence elicited from him have been found to have violated both the Charter (of Rights and Freedoms) and international human rights law.” We plainly see that citizens can be demonized, condemned and silenced, as has been done to Khadr.

Helen Sadowski, Edmonton

[ source ]


“A Citizen’s Rights” in Globe and Mail | 10 Jul, 2014
Re Khadr Should Be Serving Youth Sentence, Court Rules (July 9):

The unanimous decision by the Alberta Court of Appeal firmly rejected the federal government’s arguments to continue Omar Khadr’s imprisonment in a federal penitentiary. The federal government intends to appeal, most likely continuing its losing streak at the Supreme Court.

All Canadian citizens have a right to expect our government to protect us from unlawful actions. The Alberta Court of Appeal judges noted, “The legal process under which Khadr was held and the evidence elicited from him have been found to have violated both the Charter and international human rights law.” We plainly see that citizens can be demonized, condemned and silenced, as has been done to Omar Khadr.

Helen Sadowski, Edmonton

[ source ]


“Harper has ignored Omar Khadr’s rights” in Toronto Star | 8 Jul, 2014

Canadians have learned that a secret U.S. Justice Department memo recently released indicates that a Canadian citizen, Omar Khadr, has been illegally convicted and continues to be imprisoned without grounds.
The Canadian government responded to this information by ignoring it. Instead, the Harper government has been guided by a blind eye to the violation of Khadr’s legal and human rights, wilful ignorance of the law, a disregard for the decisions of the Supreme Court and unthinking support for Guantanamo and the much maligned military commissions.

All Canadian citizens have a right to expect that their government will protect them from such egregious, unlawful and inhumane actions. On the contrary, Canadians see that this government can deny some citizens the rights and protections enshrined in our Constitution and laws. In fact, citizens can be demonized, condemned and silenced as has been done to Khadr.

A gross miscarriage of justice has been compounded by political interference at the highest levels. Khadr should be released and this shameful chapter of Canadian history ended. Canadians expect their government to uphold their cherished values of justice, fairness and equality. Justice Minister Peter MacKay and Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney should have some tough questions for the U.S. government.

[ source ]


On side with Guantanamo in Toronto Star | 10 Jul, 2014
Re: Ottawa set to challenge Khadr’s transfer ruling, July 9;

I find it quite disturbing that Canada, a country that prides itself on its Charter of Rights and Freedoms, should have a prime minister who is on the same page as Guantanamo’s U.S. prosecutors in the inhumane treatment of Omar Khadr.

I doubt if I shall ever have an opportunity to interview Stephen Harper but a question I would like to ask him is: Does he see himself as an ideological soul mate of the infamous Dick Cheney?

Shahid Salam, Toronto

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 “Khadr should be compensated for lost years” in The Spectator | Jul 10, 2014

Given that there was likely no legal basis for the United States to prosecute Omar Khadr for war crimes (notwithstanding the fact that he was tortured and incarcerated as a 15-year-old), it’s about time the Canadian government released him from prison and compensated him for the 12 years of his life that they, and the United States, have taken from him.

As for the kangaroo courts that operate at the illegal U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, President Barack Obama should honour his election promise to close the place. Of course, the prison is also situated on land the United States stole from the people of Cuba, but that subject is for another letter.

Riaz Sayani-Mulji, Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War

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‘The real Omar Khadr’
Re Justice, Mercy And The Rule Of Law (editorial, July 10)

I have been privileged to correspond with Omar Kadhr during the past 18 months. He is an example of radical forgiveness.
I concur with his lawyer Dennis Edney that “Omar is worthy of all the help I can give.”
Would that all Canadians could see and know the real Omar Khadr. Instead, many choose to believe the line of the Harper government that he is a radical terrorist. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Patricia Houston, Victoria

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Nobel Prize winner Tutu: “Why I called Omar Khadr”

By Stephen Coan, The Witness – South Africa | 10 Jul 2014Witness - Why I called Omar Khadr

ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU: “It has been galling in the extreme to discover that those in other countries who even helped us overthrow our oppressive system of apartheid, should have no qualms it seems in employing the same discredited methods as those of a system they purported to oppose.”

ON May 30 while attending the “As Long As the Rivers Flow: Coming Back to the Treaty Relationship In Our Time” conference in northern Alberta, Canada, Archbishop Desmond Tutu took time out to telephone Omar Khadr, who is currently ­being held in Bowden prison after spending 10 years in the Guantanamo Bay ­detention camp.

Khadr is a Canadian citizen who at the age of 15 and severely wounded was captured following a firefight in the village of Ayub Kheyl in Afghanistan on July 27, 2002. He was subsequently held and interrogated at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, the U.S. military prison located within the Guantanamo Bay ­Naval Base in Cuba.
After lengthy interrogation, Khadr was accused of killing an American soldier and planting mines targeting U.S. convoys.

In 2010 a U.S. military tribunal sentenced Khadr to 40 years in prison but thanks to him pleading guilty in a plea agreement to charges of war crimes, including murder of a American soldier “in violation of the laws of war”, spying and aiding terrorism, he was given an eight-year sentence, which did not include time already served. This included a transfer to Canada to serve the remainder of his sentence after a year according to a diplomatic agreement between the U.S. and Canada.
At the time his lawyers said a guilty plea was the only way he could get out of Guantanamo, where he otherwise faced indefinite detention even if he was acquitted.

The Toronto-born Khadr has since appealed his convictions on the basis that what he was convicted of doing as a 15-year-old was not a war crime under either American or international law.
Khadr’s case has divided Canada — where he was moved to in 2012. There Khadr is either viewed as an unrepentant terrorist or as a child soldier who underwent a mockery of a trial totally at odds with international law on how child soldiers should be treated. The “Free Omar Khadr Now” campaign is calling for his release and rehabilitation.

Khadr is currently being held in Bowden Institution, a medium security prison in the province of Alberta.
On Tuesday the Alberta Court of ­Appeal ruled that the now 27-year-old Khadr should be serving a youth sentence in Canada, and should not be in a federal prison. However, the federal government said it plans to appeal the ruling and will apply to delay the transfer while it asks the Supreme Court to hear the case.

It was at Bowden that Khadr received the telephone call from Tutu.

Tutu told The Witness that he had been asked to contact Khadr by ­Arlette Zinck, Associate Professor of English, King’s University College, ­Alberta, who has been teaching Khadr in prison, but “more fundamentally, I would be interested in anyone I think has been dealt with unjustly”.

Tutu has been a vocal critic of the existence of Guantanamo prison and the U.S. use of non-judicial procedures to imprison people there, frequently comparing this to similar practices of detention without trial in South Africa under apartheid. “Many people were incarcerated [in South Africa] for endless periods, held in solitary confinement simply on the say so of some lackey of an unjust and oppressive system. It has been galling in the extreme to discover that those in other countries who even helped us overthrow our oppressive system of apartheid, should have no qualms it seems in employing the same discredited methods as those of a system they purported to oppose,” he said.

“One reason why President Obama was elected the first time round was that he promised he would shut down Guantanamo Bay,” said Tutu. “I am hugely disappointed that he has not fulfilled a very important promise.”
Asked if he thought Khadr was innocent or guilty, Tutu said his views were “quite irrelevant”.
“The point is that he was tried not in an open court, where he could been represented by a lawyer of his choice. This is apart from the fact that when he was arrested, he was only 15 years of age, a minor by every credible assessment and at the very least to have been charged as the minor that he was.”

Tutu said it was “unconscionable” that Khadr, following a “travesty of a trial, where he was treated as an adult in a vicious kangaroo court”, should be languishing in jail and that his own country Canada should be an accomplice in holding him in prison.
“This is an example of a horrible miscarriage of justice and that in a modern democratic state.”
Speaking to Khadr on the telephone, Tutu said he was “pleasantly surprised at how calm and un-bitter” Khadr sounded. “We just exchanged pleasantries. But he really impressed me in that short conversation as a gentle and sensitive person … “

“He later wrote a very nice note thanking me for taking the trouble to call him … He struck me as a very gentle and caring and courteous human being who does not belong where he is at present. The Canadian authorities would do their stature much good if they released him immediately.”

Today the appeal decision regarding a judgment given last year denying Khadr’s transfer to a provincial (non-maximum security) institution and access to educational and parole opportunities will be filed online from the Alberta Court of Appeal.

WHO IS OMAR KHADR:

OMAR Khadr was born in Toronto in 1986. His parents Ahmed Khadr and Maha el-Samnah, were Egyptian and Palestinian immigrants who became Canadian citizens. His father worked for various NGOs bringing aid to Afghanistan and Khadr spent his childhood moving back and forth between Canada and Pakistan.

In 2002, his father left the 15-year-old with a group associated with Abu Laith al-Libi — a senior leader of the Al-Qaeda movement in Afghanistan who was subsequently killed in a 2008 drone strike. Khadr is said to have received weapons training with the group.

On July 27, 2002, a military force comprising American soldiers and Afghan militia were on a reconnaissance mission in the village of Ayub Kheyl during which five men were seen in a house with AK47s. A call to surrender was met with gunfire. Reinforcements were called for and in a subsequent firefight four U.S. soldiers were wounded. An air strike was called in and the houses were strafed and bombed by Apache helicopters and F-18 Hornets.
Meanwhile more reinforcements had arrived that saw the ground troops number around 100. Investigating the ruins of the bombed houses it was found that two wounded people had survived, one was Khadr. At some point a grenade was thrown that wounded Sergeant Christopher Speer, who subsequently died of his injuries.

One of the wounded men was later killed while Khadr, who was wounded by shrapnel and subsequently lost the sight in his left eye, was shot twice in the back. Initially he was thought to be dead but when it was ascertained he was still alive he was taken by helicopter to Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan.
During the 11 years Khadr spent at Guantanamo, he spent the majority of that time in solitary confinement shackled to the floor of his cell and medical treatment was withheld that could have prevented the loss of sight in his left eye. According to one source, while his severe chest wounds were “still raw, Khadr was hooded, his wrists shackled to the ceiling and made to stand for hours”.

For the last 10 years Khadr has been represented pro bono by lawyer Dennis Edney.

After Khadr was telephoned by Archbishop Tutu in May, Edney said that “Omar was delighted and honoured” to speak to Tutu. “The conversation was a spiritual discussion between them that helped to further strengthen Omar’s belief in humanity, notwithstanding all he has suffered.”
It was further reported that Edney said that through his studies, Khadr is familiar with Tutu’s critical role in ending apartheid in South Africa and then running our Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Kathleen Copps, a member of the Free Omar Khadr Now committee, told The Witness that Khadr felt “extremely blessed to have had the opportunity” to talk to Tutu. “As part of his reading programme, Omar had been inspired by Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom and the struggle to end apartheid, so speaking with Tutu was especially significant for him.”


[PDF] of original article by Stephen Coan, Tutu: Why I called Omar Khadr, The Witness – South Africa | 10 Jul 2014


Article in Edmonton Journal during visit Tutu in Canada | June 7, 2014:

When Archbishop Desmond Tutu came to Fort McMurray last weekend, Alberta’s oilsands and native rights were his major concern. But in the days before the conference, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and human rights activist added a small personal task to his busy schedule.

After a press conference on Friday May 30, Tutu found a quiet corner and placed a phone call to Bowden prison where Omar Khadr, 27, held in Guantanamo prison for 10 years, was waiting …  → Read more here.

via spratt@edmontonjournal.com


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What Can You Tell Us about Omar Khadr? Interview with Dennis Edney QC

By Aisha Maniar (London Guantanamo Campaign) | June 3, 2014

Aisha Maniar interviewed Dennis Edney about the upcoming court cases (including the appeal to overrule Omar’s illegitimate Guantanamo conviction), the unacceptable government interference and Omar’s admirable personality. The interview took place during the UK speaking tour of Dennis Edney QC, to raise awareness for his client Omar Khadr, organized by London Guantanamo Campaign and the Free Omar Khadr Now Campaign.

Dennis Edney – “For me, it’s a privilege to represent Omar. I learn from him. I admire him. There are times when I look at him that I have to remind myself of all the horrors that he has been through, and yet he has retained his humanity and his compassion. He is full of excitement about … Read the full interview →