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.

 

 

 

.

 

OMAR KHADR | FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | CLOSE GUANTANAMO

PRESS RELEASE | GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION TO CLOSE GUANTANAMO

NOT ANOTHER BROKEN PROMISE
NOT ANOTHER DAY IN GUANTANAMO

Where: Yonge-Dundas Square, Toronto
When: May 23, 2014 12:00-1:30 PM

Omar Khadr, Guantanamo's Child - Still in a Canadian Prison.May 23 marks the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s promise to close Guantanamo. In more than 30 cities around the world including Toronto, plans are underway for a global day of action to demand the end of indefinite detentions and the closure of Guantanamo.

Witness Against Torture and the Centre for Constitutional Rights, two human rights organizations, lead this global initiative.
This Toronto event is planned by the Free Omar Khadr Now Campaign.

To understand the story of Canadian Omar Khadr, “Guantanamo’s Child,” is to realize why Guantanamo must be shut down without delay.

In 2002, at the age of 15, Omar Khadr was captured in Afghanistan where he was tortured and abused. A few months later he was transferred to Guantanamo and held without charges until 2007, all the while being denied his legal rights, access to education and proper medical treatment for severe injuries. Fifteen juveniles were detained in Guantanamo and later freed; however, Omar Khadr was the only child left there, abandoned by his country and a decade later he was the last citizen of a Western country to be repatriated. He is the only child in modern history to be convicted of war crimes. While 6000 US soldiers died in combat, Omar Khadr is the only individual charged with killing a US soldier.

In 2006 the Military Commissions Act created new laws defining terrorism, spying and combat as war crimes. These new crimes, recognized only by the US, were applied retroactively to Omar Khadr for alleged actions in 2002. Statements obtained through torture and doctored reports were used to convict him. In a forced plea bargain in 2010, he pleaded guilty to all charges in exchange for a sentence of 8 years and repatriation to Canada.

The links include statements of the event by the Centre for Constitutional Rights and Witness Against Torture. Linked also is the handout | “What is Omar Khadr’s Story”  by the Free Omar Khadr Now Campaign which provides material key to any discussion of legal and human rights within a Canadian context.

Contact:

Michael Van Arragon:
Michaelvanarragon@gmail.com

Omar Khadr and the Rule of Law

March 24, 2014
.
Dear Member of Parliament:
.
Do tortured child soldiers belong in Canadian prisons? On behalf of all Canadians who believe in the rule of law, we urge you to take a stand against the ongoing violation of Omar Khadr’s legal and human rights. The silence of Canadians inside and outside Parliament makes us complicit in a gross miscarriage of justice against a fellow Canadian. 
.
“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.
.
A Brief Overview of Omar’s case:
.
  • At 27, Omar suffers the ongoing effects of his torture and mistreatment: physical injuries, PTSD, chronic pain from infection in old wounds, and potential total blindness.
  • Omar has spent 4258 days in prison since the age of 15; including 93 days in Bagram, 3624 days in Guantanamo and 541 days in Canadian detention.
  • Although a number of children were detained in Gitmo, all were repatriated by Human Rights Watch. Omar was the only child left abandoned by his country and a decade later he was the last citizen of a Western country to be repatriated.
  • The Canadian government reluctantly transferred Omar to Canada in September 2012 and continues to issue prejudicial statements which demonize him as a “heinous terrorist”.
  • While every other Western nation released their citizens upon transfer from Guantanamo, Omar was immediately incarcerated in his native country. Instead of reintegrating him into society, Canada insists on his imprisonment under harsh conditions.
  • In 2013, the Canadian Office of the Correctional Investigator pointed out Omar Khadr showed no signs of aggressive or dangerous behaviour, and “consistently verbalized his goal to conduct a peaceful, prosocial life as a Canadian citizen.” In Guantanamo, Omar had been classified as “minimum security”.
  • Omar was offered his only chance to leave “Gitmo” by signing a “get-out-of-Guantanamo plea deal” before a universally-condemned U.S. military commission.
  • Omar’s ongoing imprisonment ignores that his plea deal was extracted with evidence obtained under torture and the Guantanamo sentence was imposed in violation of the Geneva Conventions, the Rome Statute and the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act.
  • Omar is the only child convicted of a war crime in modern history and the only person found guilty in the death of a U.S. soldier in the recent Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
  • Canada knows there is no proof of guilt, and that Omar was ‘charged’ retroactively with newly created war crimes not recognized by international or Canadian law. Any legitimate court of law would not have tried or convicted him.
  • Reports about Omar’s capture were doctored by the military and conflicting evidence does not support his charges. The only available evidence points to the innocence Omar consistently maintained. Yet he was forced into a confession of guilt, as explained by former Chief Prosecutor of Guantanamo military commissions, U.S. Colonel Morris Davis: “Our joke at Guantanamo was you gotta lose to win, cause if you get charged as a war criminal, convicted and lose you might go home. If you don’t get charged, you can sit there for the rest of your life.”
  • The Supreme Court of Canada, the Federal Court, the Federal Court of Appeal and the U.S. Supreme Court have all ruled that Omar Khadr’s rights were violated by the U.S. and Canada.
.
For further background on Omar’s case, please : 
.
  • See the November 2013 talk [ > link to video ]: U.S. Department of Defence lawyer, Sam Morison discusses his recent appeal of Omar’s U.S. ‘conviction’ and explains why there is no legal basis for his imprisonment.
.
After viewing the above, please answer the following question (with any additional comments you would like to add) and email your answer to: freeomarkhadrnow@gmail.com by April 22 2014.
.
  • Do you agree the Canadian government should release Omar Khadr as soon as possible and provide him with the necessary transitional programs to allow for his full participation in Canadian society? Yes/ No/ Don’t know
.
All MPs’ responses and non-responses will be shared with media and added to our website page: Politicians Speaking Out! 
.
Thank you for making your position, on this defining case, clear to your constituents and all Canadians.
.
.
Yours truly,
Members of the Free Omar Khadr Now Committee
W       www.freeomarakhadr.com
.
Contacts: Helen Sadowski and Kathy Copps
 .
.
FREE Omar Khadr Now Campaign 

The Free Omar Khadr Now Committee is a diverse group of citizens who advocate on behalf of Omar Khadr and raise awareness about the loss of his legal rights and protections.
.

Omar Khadr and the Rule of Law

March 10, 2014
.
Dear Member of Parliament:
.
Do tortured child soldiers belong in Canadian prisons? On behalf of all Canadians who believe in the rule of law, we urge you to take a stand against the ongoing violation of Omar Khadr’s legal and human rights. The silence of Canadians inside and outside Parliament makes us complicit in a gross miscarriage of justice against a fellow Canadian. 
.
“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.
.
A Brief Overview of Omar’s case:
.
  • At 27, Omar suffers the ongoing effects of his torture and mistreatment: physical injuries, PTSD, chronic pain from infection in old wounds, and potential total blindness.
  • Omar has spent 4258 days in prison since the age of 15; including 93 days in Bagram, 3624 days in Guantanamo and 541 days in Canadian detention.
  • Although a number of children were detained in Gitmo, all were repatriated by Human Rights Watch. Omar was the only child left abandoned by his country and a decade later he was the last citizen of a Western country to be repatriated.
  • The Canadian government reluctantly transferred Omar to Canada in September 2012 and continues to issue prejudicial statements which demonize him as a “heinous terrorist”.
  • While every other Western nation released their citizens upon transfer from Guantanamo, Omar was immediately incarcerated in his native country. Instead of reintegrating him into society, Canada insists on his imprisonment under harsh conditions.
  • In 2013, the Canadian Office of the Correctional Investigator pointed out Omar Khadr showed no signs of aggressive or dangerous behaviour, and “consistently verbalized his goal to conduct a peaceful, prosocial life as a Canadian citizen.” In Guantanamo, Omar had been classified as “minimum security”.
  • Omar was offered his only chance to leave “Gitmo” by signing a “get-out-of-Guantanamo plea deal” before a universally-condemned U.S. military commission.
  • Omar’s ongoing imprisonment ignores that his plea deal was extracted with evidence obtained under torture and the Guantanamo sentence was imposed in violation of the Geneva Conventions, the Rome Statute and the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act.
  • Omar is the only child convicted of a war crime in modern history and the only person found guilty in the death of a U.S. soldier in the recent Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
  • Canada knows there is no proof of guilt, and that Omar was ‘charged’ retroactively with newly created war crimes not recognized by international or Canadian law. Any legitimate court of law would not have tried or convicted him.
  • Reports about Omar’s capture were doctored by the military and conflicting evidence does not support his charges. The only available evidence points to the innocence Omar consistently maintained. Yet he was forced into a confession of guilt, as explained by former Chief Prosecutor of Guantanamo military commissions, U.S. Colonel Morris Davis: “Our joke at Guantanamo was you gotta lose to win, cause if you get charged as a war criminal, convicted and lose you might go home. If you don’t get charged, you can sit there for the rest of your life.”
  • The Supreme Court of Canada, the Federal Court, the Federal Court of Appeal and the U.S. Supreme Court have all ruled that Omar Khadr’s rights were violated by the U.S. and Canada.
.
For further background on Omar’s case, please : 
.
  • See the November 2013 talk [ > link to video ]: U.S. Department of Defence lawyer, Sam Morison discusses his recent appeal of Omar’s U.S. ‘conviction’ and explains why there is no legal basis for his imprisonment.
.
After viewing the above, please answer the following question (with any additional comments you would like to add) and email your answer to: freeomarkhadrnow@gmail.com by April 22 2014.
.
  • Do you agree the Canadian government should release Omar Khadr as soon as possible and provide him with the necessary transitional programs to allow for his full participation in Canadian society? Yes/ No/ Don’t know
.
All MPs’ responses and non-responses will be shared with media and added to our website page: Politicians Speaking Out! 
.
Thank you for making your position, on this defining case, clear to your constituents and all Canadians.
.
.
Yours truly,
Members of the Free Omar Khadr Now Committee
W       www.freeomarakhadr.com
.
Contacts: Helen Sadowski and Kathy Copps
 .
.
FREE Omar Khadr Now Campaign 

The Free Omar Khadr Now Committee is a diverse group of citizens who advocate on behalf of Omar Khadr and raise awareness about the loss of his legal rights and protections.
.

Government Interference vs the Rule of Law | Omar Khadr

The unacceptable government interference in the case of Omar Khadr first came to surface in 2009 when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Canadian government was responsible for the violations of Omar Khadr’s rights under Article 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Many Canadians clearly understand that Omar Khadr is wrongly imprisoned, as also this recent tweet indicates :

“When people say “Omar Khadr is a terrorist, etc” then I know they’re ignorant (or sadistic) without too much examining.”

And again today, the Government of Canada is criticized, from three different angles, for their continuing interference and the unjustified detention of Omar Khadr:

1) Why is Omar Khadr still in jail? – Kathy Copps for Rabble.ca

Do tortured child soldiers belong in Canadian prisons? The fact that Omar Khadr has spent 4254 days in prison, 537 of those days in Canadian detention, should make every Canadian question the essence of our humanity and respect for the rule of law.

Omar’s recent transfer from a maximum to a medium-security prison is a hopeful indication that Correctional Service Canada (C.S.C.) is making decisions independent of prejudicial government pressure, but we have to ask ourselves why Omar is still in jail? Unfortunately for Omar, political interference in the judicial process has a disturbing history, and since his repatriation the intervention of right-wing, Islamophobic government officials, foreshadowed an unjust delay or even a complete denial of his freedom.

… read more

2) Prisons ombudsman raps officials over Omar Khadr | 3rd complaint since Omar’s return – Colin Perkel

Canadian correctional authorities have unfairly classified former Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr even though they lowered his risk rating from maximum to medium security, the federal prisons ombudsman complains. The Office of the Correctional Investigator urges prison authorities to take into account evidence that Khadr poses minimal threat and should be classified as such.

“(Correctional Service of Canada) officials also note that there is no evidence Mr. Khadr has maintained an association with any terrorist organization,” the letter to CSC’s senior deputy commissioner states. “It is well documented by CSC officials that Mr. Khadr is fully engaged in his correctional plan and he has actively developed a strong, pro-social network of support since his incarceration.”

… read more

3) Canada: Open Letter to Ministers Peter MacKay and Steven Blaney on the Omar Khadr case -Amnesty International

We are writing to express Amnesty International’s ongoing concern that numerous, serious human rights matters remain unresolved in Omar Khadr’s case, in both Canada and the United States. A substantial amount of time has passed in his case.  It has been more than eleven years since Mr. Khadr was taken into US custody in July 2002.  It has been over four years since the second of two important Supreme Court of Canada rulings in his favour.  And it has been almost eighteen months since Mr. Khadr was transferred to Canada to serve the balance of his sentence.  It is time to resolve the outstanding human rights concerns.

As such, we urge the Canadian government to take steps to ensure full and proper review and resolution of the outstanding human rights concerns and related legal matters in Mr. Khadr’s case.  Specifically, we call on the government to appoint a sitting or retired judge and provide him or her with a mandate to examine the range of outstanding human rights and other legal concerns in Omar Khadr’s case and make recommendations to the government as to how those concerns should be resolved.

… read more

Dennis Edney awareness tour in the UK for Omar Khadr

Omar Khadr Fund for Dennis EdneyDONATION BUTTON:  < PLEASE HELP FUND THIS AWARENESS TOUR FOR OMAR KHADR>Omar Khadr tortured Canadian Child

12 – 20 March 2014 – Omar Khadr’s lawyer Dennis Edney QC speaking tour hosted by the London Guantanamo Campaign.

Talks and events

Wednesday 12 March 
– Omar Khadr and the Betrayal of International Law: a public meeting with Dennis Edney, chaired by Professor Bill Bowring at Garden Court Chambers, London. Organised by CAMPACC, the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers and the London Guantánamo Campaign.

  • time: 6.30 -8.30 pm
  • place:  Garden Court Chambers, 57-60 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A

Thursday 13 March 
– Defending Guantánamo’s youngest prisoner: The struggle to free Omar Khadr. Lecture with Dennis Edney at York University Centre for Applied Human Rights.

Friday 14 March 
– An audience with Dennis Edney QC, chaired by Dr Douglas Guilfoyle at the UCL Faculty of Laws.

and
– Where is the Law in War? An Analysis of Omar Khadr’s case. Organised by the Westminster Law Review.

Monday 17 March
– Afternoon lecture with Dennis Edney at Birkbeck College, University of London. Organised by a coalition of student societies.Omar Khadr 4250 days in jail

and
– Dennis Edney talk on Omar Khadr at the Veterans for Peace UK event.

Tuesday 18 March
– Lecture Dennis Edney at Queen Mary, University of London, organised by the Amnesty society.

  • time: 4.30 – 5.30 pm
  • place: Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS

and
– Amnesty International event with Talks from: Dennis Edney, Aaf Post and Andy Worthington about Omar Khadr at the Human Rights Action Centre.

  • time: 7.00 – 9.00 pm
  • place: Human Rights Action Centre, 25 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EA.

Thursday 20 March
– Q&A with Dennis Edney QC lawyer of Omar Khadr former Guantánamo Bay prison inmate at Amnesty St John’s Wood event

Tory MP shares government’s prejudices about Omar Khadr

Free Omar Khadr Now committee member, Helen Sadowski, contacted Tory MP, Laurie Hawn, in November 2013, informing him about the facts of Omar’s case and asking when will his government stop using Omar Khadr as a political scapegoat to win votes. She invited him to hear Omar’s U.S. Dept. of Defense lawyer, Sam Morison, speak about the appeal to overturn all of Khadr’s convictions at Kings College University in Edmonton.

The following is MP Hawn’s response:

In our view, Omar Khadr was convicted of a crime by a legitimate judicial process. When he has finished serving his sentence, he will be released and treated like anyone else. There is a bit of a contradiction in your request. At the time, some people were saying that Khadr couldn’t possibly be a soldier, because he was only 15 when he murdered Sgt Speer. A great many Canadians understandably put the Canadian context onto a place like Afghanistan. I have followed that conflict very closely and have been there several times. A 15-year-old in that environment is not like a 15-year-old in Canada. He is effectively an adult and there are many, many Omar Khadrs in Afghanistan and other primitive societies the likes of radical Islamism. I can have sympathy for Khadr growing up in a freely-admitted terrorist family, who took disgraceful advantage of their Canadian connection. But, I don’t agree that he should not pay for what he did, and there are more sides to the story than the one you’ll hear from his lawyers. I also appreciate your concerns on press releases regarding Omar Khadr. I don’t necessarily agree with everything that we do in this regard either. Thank you once again for writing. If there is any other way that my office can be of assistance to you in the future please do not hesitate to contact us.
.
Sincerely,
Laurie Hawn

Our response to Laurie Hawn’s email:

Dear Laurie
.
Thanks for taking the time to respond to my comments. I’m not sure how open you are to debating these issues, but I would like to share the following with you in regards to your comments:
.
1. You say: “Omar Khadr was convicted of a crime by a legitimate judicial process”.   
The crimes that Omar Khadr was convicted of were “invented” in 2006 by the US government and these crimes are not recognized by Canada nor other international jurisdictions. In addition, these newly defined laws were then applied retroactively to actions of 2002.  The US Federal Court has already ruled  in another case of a Guantanamo detainee that retroactive convictions are illegal. The judicial process was a military process and therefore an inferior legal process. US citizens are prohibited by law from being tried by a military tribunal as it would be a violation of their rights as it is of course for Canadian citizens.
.
Omar Khadr’s legal rights were violated and this was well expressed by Romeo Dallaire, retired LGeneral: “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”.
.
If the above violation of legal rights was the case, how is it possible to determine guilt or innocence?  Both national and international law associations as well as academics have spoken on the “legal blackhole” that is Guantanamo. While your government has shown a disdain for academic elites and scientists in the past, there is no doubt that a democracy relies on its citizens and representatives to have respect for the law, otherwise we are bordering on fascism.
.
2. You say: “When he murdered Sergeant Speer“.
The laws of war don’t recognize this as murder, but it is rather a combat fatality.  Paul Koring recently wrote in the Globe and Mail: “Sergeant Christopher Speer, helmetless and wearing Afghan garb, was killed by a grenade blast. Sgt. Speer, a qualified medic, was part of assault team when he suffered fatal head wounds”.  Being a military man yourself, you might also wonder why Speer was dressed in Afghan garb when he undertook the assault and if he was in fact an unlawful combatant himself.
.
It  is highly improbable that Khadr who was unconscious, blinded in one eye and covered in rubble could have thrown a grenade 80 ft. backwards over a high fence. There were no eyewitnesses to the actual throwing of the grenade and later evidence shows that it was an American grenade that killed Speer. Omar Khadr while in a prone position and defenceless was shot twice in the back by a US soldier. Omar Khadr was himself a victim of a war crime, that is internationally recognized. The Pentagon lawyer Sam Morison who is launching an appeal to overturn all the convictions  has evidence of this breech in the laws of war.
.
3. You say: “A 15-year-old in that environment is not like a 15-year-old in Canada. He is effectively an adult and there are many, many Omar Khadrs in Afghanistan and other primitive societies the likes of radical Islamism”. 
That comment and especially “primitive societies” made me feel sick to my stomach. I worked in the Federal government for 30 years and was for a period of time head of the Citizenship Court. For me it is deeply insulting to categorize other countries in such ways.  Again, respect for the law is fundamental to a democracy.  While you may not agree with the definition of a minor, you are not in a position to just make up some other laws that suit you better. Canada recognizes child soldiers in Africa and gives them refuge in our own country. Can you explain the difference as to the treatment of Omar Khadr? Does someone’s ethnic, religious or racial background disqualify them from the rights and protections normally guaranteed by citizenship and our laws?
.
4. You say: “I can have sympathy for Khadr growing up in a freely-admitted terrorist family who took disgraceful advantage of their Canadian connection“.
You have no facts to prove that  the family of 7 children and 2 parents was a terrorist family. Comments made by the mother and daughter while dressed in a hijab were not terrorist actions, even if you didn’t agree with them. One son was an informant for the US government. Family members, including Omar cannot be held responsible for the alleged actions of the father. At this point in time, Khadr has been denied his legitimate rights as a Canadian citizen and that has been upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada and will be part of an upcoming civil suit against the government. Most likely the mistakes of this government and its decision to ignore the rule of law will cost taxpayers upward of $20M.
.
5. You say: “Press releases regarding Omar Khadr”.
Vic Toews, while the Minister of Public Safety oversaw the return of Omar Khadr to Canada. Toews used a publicly discredited analysis by a forensic psychiatrist and prosecution witness to condemn Khadr as a jihadist and threat to Canadian society.
.
The psychiatrist, Dr. Michael Welner spent less than 15 hours with Khadr while another military psychiatrist, Dr. Stephen Xenakis, also a retired Brigadier General spent more than 100 hours with Khadr.  Toews would not accept the expert findings of Xenakis as they contradicted Welner’s findings. In addition Dr. Marc Sageman, recognized expert in terrorism,  wrote a lengthy critical analysis of Welner’s findings. In his piece https://freeomarakhadr.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/dr-sageman-letter.pdf  he states “However, Dr. Welner is not known to have any knowledge of terrorism, Islamic extremism or deradicalization. In his c.v. he has not contributed to the literature on terrorism, al Qaeda or deradicalization. He is not known as an expert in these fields. Furthermore as an internationally recognized expert in terrorism and counter terrorism, I know of no published study that addresses the issue of dangerousness in terrorists.
.
 The similarities of the Omar Khadr case to the French Dreyfus affair, the Jewish military man charged with spying, are truly haunting … interference at the highest political levels, miscarriage of justice, racism and the dissemination of misinformation and emotionally charged material.
.
I share the above as a concerned citizen who believes that our country’s democracy depends on the equal treatment of citizens,  a respect for the rule of law and an informed and educated population.
.
I hope elected representatives will start a debate about the treatment of Omar Khadr and seek to consider all available information. In that respect, please share your sources with me on any of the above points that support your views.
.
All the best
Helen Sadowski
.

Today Omar’s security classification changed to medium

Free Omar Khadr Now Committee, December 13, 2013

Omar Khadr’s security classification has been changed from maximum to medium. Omar was transferred from Guantanamo to Canada in September 2012 and placed in a maximum security jail. This placement was harshly criticized by The Office of the Correctional Investigator (OCI). “The OCI has not found any evidence that Mr. Khadr’s behavior while incarcerated has been problematic and that he could not be safely managed at a lower security level. I recommend that Mr. Khadr’s security classification be reassessed taking into account all available information and the actual level of risk posed by the offender, bearing in mind his sole offence was committed when he was a minor.”

Omar Khadr was classified as minimum security in Guantanamo. The OCI further noted that “According to a psychological report on file, Omar Khadr interacted well with others and did not present with violent or extremist attitudes”.

Many Canadians are pleased that the new classification will allow Omar to access programs, and services. However, it doesn’t alleviate the fact that Omar’s imprisonment is an abuse of human rights and the rule of law.

Dennis Edney, Omar’s lawyer said “My position is similar to that of the Ombudsman’s office he should be classified as minimum and released.”

.

Related:

Edmonton Journal: Khadr reclassified, likely to be transferred to Bowden

Ombudsman scolds officials for branding Omar Khadr a maximum security inmate

.

Omar Khadr appeals two court decisions

Appeal in the U.S. – Against the conviction in Guantanamo Military Court

Today, November 8, Omar and his lawyers filed an appeal in Washington, to fight his illegal conviction in a Military Court in Guantanamo, for the war crimes that didn’t exist under international law, when he was captured by the U.S. as a 15-year-old in Afghanistan in 2002. Therefor the military commission had no legal authority to try him or accept his guilty pleas. He pleaded guilty to the war crimes to get out of the Guantanamo Bay detention centre where he was held for 10 years.

Read more here:

Appeal in Canada – Against judge Rooke’s decision; that thwarts transfer from maximum-security federal prison to a provincial jail

On the 6th of November Omar and his lawyer filed an appeal against the Court of Queen’s Bench decision that denied his request to be transferred to a provincial jail. There he can finally receive appropriate rehabilitation. Dennis Edney states: “I am essentially arguing that the judge got it wrong in both fact and law”.
Omar’s detention in the Edmonton maximum-security institution is illegal because he was a child when captured by the U.S.. 

Read more here:

.

Politicians Speaking Out!

CONSERVATIVES

Tory MP shares government’s prejudices about Omar Khadr

In November 2013 we contacted Tory MP, Laurie Hawn, informing him about the latest facts of Omar’s case and asking when his government will stop using Omar Khadr as a political scapegoat to win votes. His unsubstantiated response adds to the government’s prejudicial rhetoric and shows his lack of knowledge about the case. Helen Sadowski of the Free Omar Khadr Now campaign explains the falsehoods in his letter point by point. … Continue reading .

GREEN PARTY OF CANADA

Green Party of Canada

Press Release Oct. 28, 2013 | Omar: An Abuse of Human Rights and International Law

Last Friday, Omar Khadr, a former child soldier, was denied a request to be moved to a provincial prison to serve out the remainder of his highly questionable sentence. “It is sadly evident that even after more than a year of his being back in Canada, programming has not been put in place that recognizes his right to treatment and support for all he suffered as a child soldier,” said Elizabeth May, MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands and Green Party of Canada Leader.

Omar Khadr will now remain in a maximum federal prison and will not likely be able to meet parole requirements. In spite of his desire to learn, he may also be denied the opportunity of education.

read more here: Press Release | Omar: An Abuse of Human Rights and International Law, Oct. 28, 2013 and Green Party | Backgrounder – Omar Khadr

 
Our response:

Dear Elizabeth May and the Green Party of Canada:

The Free Omar Khadr Committee would like to thank the Green Party-in particular Elizabeth May and Joe Foster-for yesterday’s media release which highlighted the recent denial of Omar Khadr’s court application, the highly inflammatory statements of Stephen Harper, and many of the shocking violations of Omar’s fundamental rights in a decade-long history of abuse. Your ongoing commitment to justice for this vulnerable young Canadian is much appreciated.

Our committee seeks to remind Canadians that our government has a legal duty to release Omar who has been illegitimately imprisoned (largely in solitary confinement) since 2002 when he was only 15 years old.

We urge the Green Party and all fair-minded Canadians to:

1. Demand the immediate release of Omar Khadr and ensure violations of his rights are investigated and remedied.

2. Protest against the Canadian authorities who wrongly claim that the illegal Guantanamo Bay sentencing gives them the right to continue to imprison Omar.

3. Condemn all prejudicial statements and shocking interference in a judicial process by government officials particularly Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Public Safety Minister Stephen Blaney, and former Public Safety Minister, Vic Toews.

Without independent, impartial courts and the equal application of laws, the rights of all citizens are threatened. The struggle for justice for Omar Khadr is in the interest of all Canadians and we are hopeful it will be a topic for the Green Party in the upcoming session of Parliament.

Sincerely,

Free Omar Khadr Now Committee

P.S. Thank you so much for including the website in your release! (www.freeomarakhadr.com)

SENATOR ROMEO DALLAIRE

[+] Speech on Omar Khadr in the Senate by LGen the Hon. Romeo Dallaire, Senator
[+] Petition Senator Dallaire | Bring back Omar Khadr from Guantanamo Bay

Dallaire has been an outspoken advocate for Omar’s rights, as former child soldier. In July 2012, Dallaire set up a petition putting pressure on Public Safety Minister, at that time, Vic Toews, to honour the plea bargain deal Khadr agreed to in 2010.
35,000 concerned citizens signed the petition. Omar was repatriated in September 2012.

“Omar has been 10 years in jail already, in a jail so many have considered illegal and inappropriate. He’s been tortured to get testimony out of him and through all that has seen no support whatsoever.
Now that he’s back in Canada the government should simply clam up. It has no more duty in regards to this individual. He’s now within the process of our judicial system and in that context the executive has no right to interfere in the judicial process.” ~Dallaire, Sept. 2012.

LIBERALS

“Omar Khadr needs to be treated the way we treat Canadians according to the rules that exist, according to the laws and principles that govern. He should be treated like any Canadian who as been incarcerated outside of the country. We need to be fair to the way we treat Canadians.” ~Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, Aug. 2013, Halifax.
Trudeau isn’t ruling out compensation for Omar for the time he served in Guantanamo Bay.

[+] Official Statement by Liberal Leader Bob Rae on Omar’s repatriation, Sept. 2012.

“Mr. Khadr, a Canadian citizen, was a child soldier. It is extremely unfortunate that it took the Conservative government this long to fulfil its responsibility to bring him back to Canada. Now Mr. Khadr will serve the remainder of his sentence under the supervision of the Canadian correctional system, and we can ensure that he receives proper treatment and rehabilitation.” ~Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae, Sept. 2012

“The over-the-top rhetoric that we’ve come to expect from this minister of Public Safety is most unfortunate, I hope it doesn’t influence the parole board’s deliberations.” ~Liberal MP Sean Casey, Sept. 2012.

NDP

ndp“Today, the Conservatives ended nearly a decade of unnecessary delays and allowed Omar Khadr to serve out the remainder of his sentence in Canada. Canada is the last Western country to repatriate their citizens from the discredited Guantanamo prison system.
Mr. Khadr’s return to Canada was inevitable, yet the Conservatives chose to drag this process out for years at great cost to taxpayers. Their mishandling has hurt our relationship with the United States, our closest ally, and tarnished Canada’s reputation on the international stage.
Both the Supreme Court of Canada and the U.S. Supreme Court, based on the full facts of this case, have found that the military commission proceedings in Guantanamo violated both U.S. domestic law and Canada’s international human rights obligations.
Conservatives have previously faced court judgments against them for their mishandling of the case and failure to respect human rights.
The government should now allow Mr. Khadr to be handled by Canadian authorities in accordance with Canadian law, free from interference.” ~[+] Official Statement from NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar on Omar’s repatriation, Sept. 2012.

“This government decided to play politics with a straightforward foreign affairs case. Rather than simply bringing its citizen home from Guantanamo Bay as other countries did, they tried to polarize and turn this into something else.
They’ve obviously screwed up massively when it comes to this case, so hopefully they won’t do any further damage when it comes to our reputation as a country.” ~NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar, Sept 2012.

“Mr. Khadr was the only Western citizen left in Guantanamo. And that’s because other countries, Australia for instance and others, had repatriated their citizens back to their countries. We had not done that, we had foot dragged. We’d frankly been pushed in the end by the Americans to take him back. The Conservatives were very stubborn on returning Khadr to Canada, not living up to their responsibility to deal with one of our citizens. Khadr’s prolonged detainment in Guantanamo Bay has already been established as a human rights violation and now the government should explain why they resisted bringing him back to Canada. The question now is, what’s the government’ s explanation for having waited so long to have him come home? Just what was it that made the government so intransigent on this issue? That’s going to be an issue for the next number of months for us to delve into” ~NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar, CTV News Sept 2012.

.