DONATE TO THE FREE OMAR FUND

 


TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE FREE OMAR 2017 FUND, you have the following options:

  • 2) By Cheque, you can send to: Free Omar Campaign; 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 Campaign; VanCity Credit Union, Branch 13; Account number: 531590; FreeOmar.ca@gmail.com


On May 7, 2015, after a 13 year imprisonment, Omar Khadr was finally freed on bail. His ordeal is far from over.

There are still legal battles ahead. The Free Omar Campaign will continue its work until Omar is completely free to come and go where he wants, and until he is acquitted of all illegitimate charges applied by the widely condemned, extrajudicial Guantanamo military ‘court’. The violation of Omar’s rights must be properly remedied.

We will continue to support Omar’s pro bono lawyers with their mounting costs.

Upcoming 2017 court challenges are:

  • Civil lawsuit against the Canadian government for complicity in his arbitrary detention and cruel and inhumane treatment at the hands of the United States;
  • Appeal to the Court of Military Commission Review in the U.S. to vacate all Omar’s Guantanamo Bay ‘convictions’.

We continue to need your help and ask you to support the Free Omar 2017 Fundraising campaign. The money goes directly to Omar’s defence with no administration fees.

Your contribution makes his defence possible and brings Omar’s case closer to justice.

 

Thank you!

The Free Omar Campaign.

 


 

picture Dennis and Omar; courtesy of Krishna Lalbiharie


 

Call for Fair Reporting on the Omar Khadr case!

One of the main goals of the Free Omar Khadr Now-campaign is to hold the media accountable for proper coverage of all aspects of Omar’s case. While there has been significant improvement in the way the mainstream media covers the story, misinformation, inaccuracies and lies continue to be printed!

Below the usual falsehoods that Canadian media imposes on us and our call for factual, fair reporting, voiced by Gail Davidson of Lawyers Rights Watch Canada:
Juridical Facts in Omar Khadr's case

Misinformation, inaccuracies and lies continue to be printed by the mainstram media in their covering of the Omar Khadr story. Their legally and factually wrong reporting is dangerously misleading.

Mr. Khadr cannot reasonably (or legally) be considered to have ‘admitted’ to the U.S. accusations against him. In October 2010 Mr. Khadr had been arbitrarily (i.e. without legal justification and without access to judicial oversight to determine the illegality of his detention or his treatment) for over 8 years.

Throughout that 8+ year period Mr. Khadr was subjected to a variety of torture and other cruel, inhumane and degrading punishment and treatment, first at the notorious Bagram prison and then at the extra-legal Guantanamo Bay prisons. His treatment throughout is prohibited by U.S., Canadian and international law binding on the U.S. and Canada. In advance of his October 2010 scheduled appearance before the Guantanamo Bay tribunal, it was known by all that this process –the Gitmo tribunal– would not result in Mr. Khadr gaining his freedom. In August 2010, the White House had issued a public statement confirming the U.S. intention to continue to hold Guantanamo Bay prisoners indefinitely, irrespective of a finding of not guilty by the Guantanamo Bay tribunals. Mr. Khadr’s acceptance in October 2010 of the ‘get out of jail in eight years and go back to Canada in one year’ plea bargain offered by the U.S. would not be considered by any properly constituted court in Canada as an ‘admission’ that could be used or relied upon, to establish guilt.

Having been obtained by torture and other impermissible coercion, Mr. Khadr’s acceptance of the plea bargain is not and cannot be considered, an admission of guilt. This is a principle of law well understood by the public. The mainstream media’s insistence on referring to Omar Khadr as a convicted murderer invites listeners/readers to assume that the media knows of factors unknown to listeners/readers, that render the wholly illegal capture, detention, treatment and extraction of statements through the use of torture, the charging and ‘conviction’ of Omar Khadr, as somehow (exceptionally) legal and justified.

For several years, Canadian mainstream media has persisted in parroting the erroneous pronouncements of the very governments implicated in the horrific and illegal maltreatment of Omar Khadr.

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.


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US Ruling Could Help Omar Khadr Successfully Appeal his Guantanamo ‘Conviction’

The US Court of Military Commission Review (CMCR) made an important decision that acknowledged its illegitimacy in convicting on charges of providing material support for terrorism. The CMCR decision follows on the ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court (Al Bahlul v. United States), which held that material support for terrorism is not an offense that the military commission could try.

David Hicks, a former Guantanamo prisoner was convicted by the military commission of this offense but now that conviction has been quashed. He is innocent. His lawyer Stephen Kenny said that the decision confirms that Mr Hicks’ actions were not illegal. “He wasn’t doing anything that was a breach of Australian, international or US law. US civilian courts have ruled that the charge of providing material support for terrorism cannot be considered a war crime in cases that were brought for actions before 2006, when new laws were adopted.”

US civilian courts have ruled that the charge of providing material support for terrorism cannot be considered a war crime in cases that were brought for actions before 2006, when new laws were adopted.”

Omar Khadr was also ‘convicted’ of providing material support, and like David HIcks was told that he had no appeal rights as part of the plea deal. Now it’s clear that appeal rights have not been extinguished, rather they continue to exist.

Nate Whitling, Omar’s lawyer suggested that the ruling could help Omar’s U.S. appeal and stated that “(The) decision in the David Hicks case is important to Omar Khadr’s appeal before the same court. Essentially, it confirms that the form of waiver signed by Omar as part of his plea deal is invalid, and that he may appeal all five of his ‘convictions’.”

Sam Morison, Pentagon appointed lawyer is currently appealing all of Omar’s ‘convictions‘. This challenge has been delayed by other appeals in the system, nevertheless we are hopeful that Omar’s innocence will also be established.

In light of this US appeal and other decisions which have successfully negated the legitimacy of the military commission, Omar’s lawyers have requested bail. The bail hearing is set for March 24-25 in Edmonton. Let’s hope that justice and fairness will prevail for Omar.


Here is a listing of media articles as well as the Hicks decision:

 


 

Op-ed by Omar Khadr on National Security & Human Rights

Op-ed by Omar Khadr, Bowden Prison Canada | 2014 10 28

27 Omar KhadrTen years ago the Canadian government established a judicial inquiry into the case of Maher Arar. That inquiry, over the course of more than two years of ground-breaking work, examined how Canada’s post-Sept. 11 security practices led to serious human rights violations, including torture.

At that same time, 10 years ago and far away from a Canadian hearing room, I was mired in a nightmare of injustice, insidiously linked to national security. I have not yet escaped from that nightmare.

As Canada once again grapples with concerns about terrorism, my experience stands as a cautionary reminder. Security laws and practices that are excessive, misguided or tainted by prejudice can have a devastating human toll.

A conference Wednesday in Ottawa, convened by Amnesty International, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group and the University of Ottawa, will reflect on these past 10 years of national security and human rights. I will be watching, hoping that an avenue opens to leave my decade of injustice behind.

I was apprehended by U.S. forces during a firefight in Afghanistan in July 2002. I was only 15 years old at the time, propelled into the middle of armed conflict I did not understand or want. I was detained first at the notorious U.S. air base at Bagram, Afghanistan; and then I was imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay for close to 10 years. I have now been held in Canadian jails for the past two years.

From the very beginning, to this day, I have never been accorded the protection I deserve as a child soldier. And I have been through so many other human rights violations. I was held for years without being charged. I have been tortured and ill-treated. I have suffered through harsh prison conditions. And I went through an unfair trial process that sometimes felt like it would never end.

I am now halfway through serving an eight-year prison sentence imposed by a Guantánamo military commission; a process that has been decried as deeply unfair by UN human rights experts. That sentence is part of a plea deal I accepted in 2010.

Remarkably, the Supreme Court of Canada has decided in my favour on two separate occasions; unanimously both times. Over the years, in fact, I have turned to Canadian courts on many occasions, and they have almost always sided with me. That includes the Federal Court, the Federal Court of Appeal and the Alberta Court of Appeal.

In its second judgement, the Supreme Court found that Canadian officials violated the Charter of Rights when they interrogated me at Guantánamo Bay, knowing that I had been subjected to debilitating sleep deprivation through the notorious ‘frequent flyer’ program. The Court concluded that to interrogate a youth in those circumstances, without legal counsel, “offended the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects.” That ruling was almost five years ago.

I had assumed that a forceful Supreme Court ruling, coming on top of an earlier Supreme Court win, would guarantee justice. Quite the contrary, it seemed to only unleash more injustice.

Rather than remedy the violation, the government delayed my return from Guantánamo to Canada for a year and aggressively opposed my request not to be held in a maximum security prison. It is appealing a recent Alberta Court of Appeal decision that I should be dealt with as a juvenile under the International Transfer of Offenders Act.

No matter how convincingly and frequently Canadian courts side with me, the government remains determined to deny me my rights.

I will not give up. I have a fundamental right to redress for what I have experienced.

But this isn’t just about me. I want accountability to ensure others will be spared the torment I have been through; and the suffering I continue to endure.

I hope that my experience – of 10 years ago and today – will be kept in mind as the government, Parliament and Canadians weigh new measures designed to boost national security. Canadians cannot settle for the easy rhetoric of affirming that human rights and civil liberties matter. There must be concrete action to ensure that rights are protected in our approach to national security.

National security laws and policies must live up to our national and international human rights obligations. I have come to realize how precious those obligations are.

That is particularly important when it comes to complicity in torture, which is unconditionally banned.

I have also seen how much of a gap there is in Canada when it comes to meaningful oversight of national security activities, to prevent violations.

And I certainly appreciate the importance of there being justice and accountability when violations occur.

I want to trust that the response to last week’s attacks will not once again leave human rights behind. Solid proof of that intention would be for the government to, at a minimum, end and redress the violations I have endured.


Originally published: Khadr: Misguided security laws take a human toll by Omar Khadr, Ottawa Citizen | 2014 10 28

Written in the context of the event: Arar +10: National Security and Human Rights a Decade Later | 2014 10 29


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


[+] Click [THIS LINK] to Sign and Share the PETITION | FREE Omar Khadr NOW


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 | 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

Close Guantánamo. No More Excuses. | May 23, Global Day of Action, Toronto

Omar Khadr, Guantanamo's Child - Still in a Canadian Prison.

Toronto Event: May 23, Dundas Square at noon


The Canadian Close Guantanamo event on Dundas Square will have a special focus on Canadian Omar Khadr, who – after 93 days Bagram and 3624 days Guantanamo – is now held in a Canadian jail for 601 days, based on an illegal Guantanamo conviction.

On Facebook: Close Guantánamo. No More Excuses. | May 23, Global Day of Action, Toronto.


The story of Guantánamo remains that of nearly 800 men and boys thrown into an island prison designed to exist beyond the rule of law. Most were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, refugees fleeing the chaos of war in Afghanistan. The U.S. military captured only one in twenty; many were sold for significant sums of money to the U.S. by local authorities in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Of the 155 men who remain at Guantánamo as of January 2014, approximately half were cleared for release years ago. The vast majority will never be charged with any crime.

On his second day in office, President Obama pledged that he would close the prison within a year. He has reiterated his promise many times since then, and under current law, he has the power to make it a reality, But in 2014, Guantánamo is still inexcusably open and entering its thirteenth year. No more excuses. Guantánamo must be closed.

The men detained at Guantánamo brought the prison back into the consciousness of the world through their mass hunger-strike in 2013. They effectively helped pressure the Obama administration to begin releasing men, after nine months without a transfer. But today, the base is looking more and more like an internment camp for Yemen men. Yemenis now constitute more than half the population at Guantánamo, and most have long been cleared for release.

– Courtesy of the Centre for Constitutional Rights, New York, USA

The May 23rd Day of Action is being coordinated by Witness Against Torture in collaboration with the Free Omar Khadr Now Campaign and many others in 38 cities around the world.

Read more: May 23 2014 Global call to action to Close Guantanamo.


Omar Khadr, innocent and illegally detained for 4318 days, since the age of 15.


 

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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.

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