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.”

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Related:

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

Ombudsman scolds officials for branding Omar Khadr a maximum security inmate

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Omar Khadr’s pro bono lawyer wins prestigious Human Rights Award!

On International Human Rights Day:

Dennis Edney QC who has defended Omar Khadr on a pro bono basis for over a decade, wins the Gerald L. Gall Human Rights Award.  It is the highest honor one can receive from the John Humphrey Centre.

There are times in your life when something is so terribly wrong that to walk away is not an option” -Dennis Edney

Two excellent articles on Omar Khadr on the International Human Rights Day:

[+] Harper, International Human Rights Day and Nelson Mandela | Kathy Copps, Rabble.ca

[+] Khadr lawyer receives human rights award | Sheila Pratt, Edmonton Journal

 

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Lecture Nov 12 | Attorney Samuel Morison, US Department of Defence

The last in the series of three lectures in Edmonton about Omar Khadr.

OMAR KHADR | THE LAWMorison

With:     Attorney Samuel Morison, US Department of Defence
When:   Tuesday, November 12, 19:00
Where:  The Atrium at King’s University College, 9125 – 50 Street, Edmonton

Samuel Morison has practiced law for more than 20 years and is a national recognized expert on federal executive clemency and the restoration of civil rights. He will speak about Omar Khadr’s appeal before the US Federal Court.

[+] the poster of the lectures

[+] the video of the second lecture, by Brigadier General (ret) Dr. Stephen Xenakis

Edmonton Events, Do not miss them

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DENNIS EDNEY | PRESENTATIONDennis

With:     Mr. Dennis Edney, Q.C., Omar Khadr’s defense counsel.
When:   Thursday, October 17, 2013, 19:00
Where:  Room 231/237 U of A Law Centre, Edmonton

CLAIHR U of A is pleased to host a presentation by Mr. Dennis Edney, Q.C., Omar Khadr’s defense counsel. Mr. Edney has agreed to speak to Faculty of Law students concerning Omar Khadr’s highly publicized case. There will be an opportunity for questions following the presentation.

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OMAR KHADR | THE MAN 

With:     Brigadier General (ret) Dr. Stephen XenakisXenakis.
When:   Tuesday, October 22, 2013, 19:00
Where:  University of Alberta Building ETLC Rm-1001, Edmonton

Although Mr. Harper and the Canadian government have chosen to demonize Omar Khadr, there are significant faces from the U.S Military and Canadian public who have actually met and spent time with Mr. Khadr and find that he is a compassionate human being who poses no threat to anyone.

Brigadier General (ret) Dr. Stephen Xenakis is a psychiatrist who has spent hundreds of hours with Omar Khadr over the past 5 years. Come out and join the discussion about his experiences with Omar in Guantanamo Bay and raise your own questions and concerns. Refreshments will be provided.

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OMAR KHADR | THE LAWMorison

With:     Attorney Samuel Morison, US Department of Defence
When:   Tuesday, November 12, 19:00
Where:  The Atrium at King’s University College, 9125 – 50 Street, Edmonton

Samuel Morison has practiced law for more than 20 years and is a national recognized expert on federal executive clemency and the restoration of civil rights. He will speak about Omar Khadr’s appeal before the US Federal Court.

 

Last Weeks Edmonton Court Articles on Omar Khadr

July 2013 | Day Parole for Omar Khadr?

Omar Khadr is finally eligible for day parole. But when will he have justice?

In Canada we do still have a relatively civilized justice system. As we saw in the US state cables, Canada’s justice system was deemed too civilized to convict Omar Khadr and that is why he was kept in Guantanamo and Bagram since he was 15.

As we all know, there is nothing lawful about the conviction of Omar Khadr. The specially created court, the retroactively applied law, the tampered with and restricted evidence and testimony, the indefinite detention and torture leading up to his detention all resulted in a verdict no country with any respect for the law can accept. Even the US itself does not accept this court’s rulings as it showed in the overturned verdict for former Gauntanamo inmate Hamdan.

The treatment of Omar Khadr over the past 11 years is indeed a tragedy for him. It is impossible to look clearly at what that child, now man, has been through and not feel the scope of this. But the tragedy for Canada is far greater. Our treatment of Omar Khadr is so far below any human rights disaster we have ever been responsible for that I think most Canadians cannot face what we have done. We are alone in the world in our treatment of out citizen at Guantanamo. I believe this case has fundamentally changed who Canadians are and the way in which we can view ourselves.

While Omar still has his integrity, we have lost ours.

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Letter writing campaign against Vic Toew’s denial of a media request, interview Omar Khadr

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Dear Supporters of Omar Khadr,

In light of recent media coverage of Vic Toew’s denial of a media request for an interview with Omar Khadr, the Vancouver Free Omar Khadr Campaign is encouraging a letter writing campaign to share our criticism of his appalling interference.
[+] Omar Khadr prison interview overruled by Vic Toews’ office (CBCnews)

Please forward or edit the template letter as you see fit. It would be very helpful if you sent copies to Stephen Harper and your M.P. Address/Contact information is provided below.

Thank you for your support!

Vancouver FREE Omar Khadr NOW Committee

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___________________________________

Date___________________

Vic Toews
Minister of Public Safety
Suite 306
Justice Building
House of Commons
Ottawa, Canada
K1A 0A6

Dear Mr. Toews:

I am writing to protest the political interference of the office of the Minister of Public Safety in an application for a prison interview with Omar Khadr. Your decision to overrule the warden’s approval is considered to be highly unusual and outside the bounds of your authority. Only recently you reassured Canadians that decisions related to the future of Omar Khadr would be determined by Correctional Services Canada independent of government involvement. Political interference in the judicial process threatens the foundations of our democracy, Mr. Toews. I therefore urge you to:

1. allow the warden’s decision to take precedence and allow media access to Omar Khadr.

2. end the complicity of Canadian government officials in the ongoing violation of Omar Khadr’s human rights that are protected by international law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

  

Sincerely,

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Name_______________
Addess______________

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________________________________

TAKE ACTION:

1. Phone Vic Toews:
1-613-992-3128, toll free: 1-800-944-4875

2. Send an email message:
vic.toews@parl.gc.ca

3. Send a letter: (no stamp needed). Hard copy letters have the greatest impact. Please write to:
Vic Toews
Minister of Public Safety
Suite 306, Justice Building
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ont.
K1A 0A6

4. Tweet Toews:
Vic Toews @ToewsVic

5. Send a copy to your M.P.
addresses listed here:
http://www.parl.gc.ca/Parlinfo/Compilations/HouseOfCommons.aspx?Menu=HoC

6. Send a copy to Stephen Harper:
pm@pm.gc.ca

7. Call Stephen Harper:
1-613-992-4211

8. Send a copy to Mulcair:
thomas.mulcair@parl.gc.ca

9. Send a copy to Trudeau:
justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca

10. Send a copy to May:
elizabeth.may@parl.gc.ca

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Canadian Omar Khadr to appeal terrorism convictions

By Paul Koring,  The Globe and Mail  Apr. 27 2013

Omar Khadr’s plea-bargained guilty plea and conviction on murder, terrorism and spying charges will be appealed to a U.S. civilian federal court that has tossed out similar Guantanamo military tribunal convictions for two high-profile al-Qaeda defendants.

If the appeal succeeds, Mr. Khadr could be freed immediately.

His lawyers expect the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to overturn Mr. Khadr’s conviction – just as it did in the cases of two of Osama bin Laden’s close personal aides, Ali Hamza Bahlul and Salim Hamdan, both also convicted at Guantanamo.

That would create consternation in Ottawa, where ministers have called Mr. Khadr a terrorist and successive Liberal and Conservative governments refused to extricate him from Guantanamo despite his Canadian citizenship and his hotly debated status as a child soldier under international law. He pleaded guilty in 2010 to multiple crimes committed in Afghanistan in 2002. As part of that plea, he confessed to throwing a grenade that killed U.S. Sergeant Christopher Speer.

The Pentagon’s Office of the Chief Defense Counsel has named an appellate team of attorneys for Mr. Khadr led by a civilian Sam Morison. Now armed with a formal go-ahead from Mr. Khadr, the team is expected to file the appeal soon.

They’re confident the military tribunal convictions will be overturned. “In our view there are serious questions about the validity of all these convictions,” Mr. Morison said, adding: “As the law now stands, I don’t see how his convictions can be affirmed.”

In rulings on Mr. Hamdan last October and again in January on Mr. al-Bahlul, the civilian appeals court overturned the terrorism convictions against the two. It concluded the military war crimes tribunal created by the George W. Bush administration after the 2001 terrorist attack that levelled New York’s twin towers and left the Pentagon ablaze had tried and convicted detainees on crimes that didn’t exist when the defendants were captured. President Barack Obama has opted to retain the military commissions and keep Guantanamo running, despite his pre-2008 election vow to close the infamous prison complex.

Mr. Khadr’s case is additionally complicated because, unlike Mr. Hamdan or Mr. al-Bahlul, he pleaded guilty at his week-long trial in October, 2010, that included a remorseful statement to Sgt. Speer’s widow. As part of that deal, Mr. Khadr waived his right to appeal.

Mr. Khadr admitted to murder in violation of the law of war, attempted murder in violation of the law of war, conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism and spying.

But if the underlying acts weren’t crimes – at least not war crimes – then the waiver may also be unreliable and the appeal could still be accepted by the U.S. federal court.

“Not only weren’t they war crimes at the time of their commission but, I would argue,” Mr. Morison said, “that none of them are crimes today, not in international law.”

The exception is spying, which was so broadly redefined in the Military Commissions Act, it bears little resemblance to espionage as defined in international law.

It could be months before the appeal is formally launched, let alone heard.

In the meantime, Mr. Khadr, who has been held prisoner since 2002, will be eligible under Canadian law for a parole hearing in July this year, when he will have served one-third of the eight-year sentence he agreed to at his 2010 trial.

Mr. Khadr, near death, was dug out of the rubble of an Afghan compound bombed by U.S. warplanes in June, 2002, where the then-15-year-old son of a major al-Qaeda figure was living with a group of militants building and planting roadside bombs.

Even if Mr. Khadr threw the grenade that killed Sgt. Speer, killing a combatant on a battlefield isn’t a war crime except in narrowly defined cases. Those include shooting a defenseless descending parachutist, a wounded soldier or one indicating surrender.

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Source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/canadian-omar-khadr-to-appeal-terrorism-convictions/article11587422/?cmpid=rss1

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MORE RELATED TO THIS STORY

Omar Khadr or: How Canada Rejects the Very Principles of the Rule of Law and the Further Erosion of Our Values.

Omar Khadr’s lawyer Dennis Edney’s Talk | Vancouver April 16, 2013

Validity of Khadr’s guilty plea in doubt

By Paul Koring,  The Globe and Mail  Feb. 28 2013

OmarAppeals court rulings that tossed out the convictions of two al-Qaeda operatives mean that Omar Khadr was also wrongfully convicted and should be freed, his lawyer and rights experts say.

A court of appeals last month overturned the U.S. military court in Guantanamo Bay’s murder and terrorism convictions of Ali Hamza al Bahlul, a Yemeni who was Osama bin Laden’s publicist, on the grounds that the charges on which he was convicted were not internationally recognized as war crimes.

Mr. Khadr’s lawyer and others say such rulings raise grave doubts about the validity of Mr. Khadr’s guilty plea to terrorism and murder charges in the same court, because those were not war crimes in 2002 when the Canadian teenager was involved in a gun battle in which a U.S. soldier died.

Mr. Khadr, currently in a Canadian maximum security prison, wants his plea-bargained conviction appealed, said his lawyer, Dennis Edney.

And human rights experts believe he has a solid case, although the Canadian government seems keen to keep Mr. Khadr, now 26, locked up as long as possible.

Mr. Edney said Mr. Khadr was wrongfully convicted and wants the Pentagon to appoint counsel to appeal.

Mr. Edney wrote in a Jan. 29, 2013, letter to Bryan Broyles, deputy chief defence counsel for the U.S. war crimes tribunals, that Mr. Khadr wants to “appeal all of the convictions entered against him in October, 2010,” and asked for a legal team to launch the appeal. Mr. Broyles has yet to reply, and declined to respond to written questions from The Globe and Mail.

“It is astounding no notice of appeal was filed on behalf of Omar Khadr while other detainees have had their appeals filed and successfully appealed by military defence counsel,” Mr. Edney said.

After the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia threw out the convictions against Mr. al Bahlul, Mr. Broyles denounced the original prosecution saying: “The only basis on which the United States relied was their fanciful notion of U.S. common law of war, something which doesn’t actually exist.”

The same appeals court had earlier tossed out the terrorism conspiracy conviction of Salim Hamdan, one of Mr. bin Laden’s drivers, on similar grounds, that the crimes he was convicted of did not exist until they were created by the Bush administration.

Mr. Khadr’s chance of having his convictions vacated are complicated by several circumstances, not least that, as part of his plea bargain deal, he waived his right to appeal. He is also now back in Canada, outside of U.S. jurisdiction.

Mr. Khadr also agreed to plead guilty to murder in violation of the law of war, attempted murder in violation of the law of war, conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism.

Even if Mr. Khadr threw the grenade that caused the death of U.S. special forces Sergeant Christopher Speer, killing a combatant on a battleground is not a war crime under international law except in some circumstances. Even if Mr. Khadr should have faced charges for the killing, said Andrea Prasow, the senior counter-terrorism counsel and advocate at Human Rights Watch’s U.S. program, it should have been as a criminal homicide in Afghanistan.“These weren’t crimes in violation of the laws of war at the time they were committed,” Ms. Prasow said in an interview. “They weren’t then, and they are not now,” she added. That was the fundamental reason the U.S. appeals court tossed out the Guantanamo convictions of Hamdan and al-Bahlul.

That a child soldier – Mr. Khadr was 15 in 2002 – was charged at all, let alone by an offshore war crimes tribunal created by the Bush administration to skirt U.S. constitutional protections, has outraged rights groups for more than a decade. But unlike Britain and Australia, which insisted on the rapid repatriation of their citizens, successive Canadian governments wanted Mr. Khadr held and tried in Guantanamo.

Although the military jury sentenced him to 40 years, the plea deal added only another eight years to the eight Mr. Khadr had already spent in Guantanamo, and the chance to be sent to Canada, the country of his birth, to serve most of the remaining sentence. Under Canadian law, he is eligible for parole on July 1, but the Harper government is expected to opposed his release vigorously, arguing he is a dangerous, convicted terrorist.

Were a U.S. appeals court to overturn the conviction on the grounds that the crimes on which he was convicted didn’t exist in 2002, Mr. Khadr might be entitled to immediate release.

Source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/validity-of-khadrs-guilty-plea-in-doubt/article9145486/

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