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:


 

 

PETITION | FREE Omar Khadr NOW


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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

[ source ]


 “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

[ source ]


‘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

[ source ]


 

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 →

 

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Therefore, the situation is focused specifically on the Crown.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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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.
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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.
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For further background on Omar’s case, please : 
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  • 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.
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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.
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  • 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
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All MPs’ responses and non-responses will be shared with media and added to our website page: Politicians Speaking Out! 
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Thank you for making your position, on this defining case, clear to your constituents and all Canadians.
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Yours truly,
Members of the Free Omar Khadr Now Committee
W       www.freeomarakhadr.com
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Contacts: Helen Sadowski and Kathy Copps
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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.
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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:
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  • 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.
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For further background on Omar’s case, please : 
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  • 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.
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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.
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  • 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
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All MPs’ responses and non-responses will be shared with media and added to our website page: Politicians Speaking Out! 
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Thank you for making your position, on this defining case, clear to your constituents and all Canadians.
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Yours truly,
Members of the Free Omar Khadr Now Committee
W       www.freeomarakhadr.com
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Contacts: Helen Sadowski and Kathy Copps
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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.
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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.

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– 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

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– 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

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– 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.
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Sincerely,
Laurie Hawn

Our response to Laurie Hawn’s email:

Dear Laurie
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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:
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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.
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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”.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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?
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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.
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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.
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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.
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 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.
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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.
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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.
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All the best
Helen Sadowski
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