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Omar Khadr | This week’s Events – London Ontario, Vernon B.C. and Edmonton Alberta

Vernon B.C.: TUESDAY January 28 at 6.30 p.m. | In the upstairs lounge at the Bean Scene

Event by Amnesty Vernon to discuss Omar Khadr.

Local performer Christine Pilgrim had recently attended an moving talk by Omar Khadr’s lawyer, Dennis Edney. She will talk about the human rights violations endured by Omar and invite those who also believe in the power of the pen to address letters on his behalf.

“Dennis Edney ended his moving talk about Omar Khadr’s situation by saying, ‘The only crime worse than willful inhumanity is the crime of indifference, of silence, of forgetting.’”

Admission to the event is free and open to everyone, from youth to senior. For more information, e-mail info@amnestyvernon.ca or call 250-542 4152.

London, Ontario EventLondon, Ontario: WEDNESDAY January 29, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. | In the UCC Room 67

Screening of the documentary “You Don’t Like the Truth: Four Days Inside Guantanamo” followed by human rights discussion with Law Professor Michael Lynk. Come out and discuss the truth about Omar Khadr.

Event is sponsored by MSA and Amnesty International at Western. For more information contact Homaira at HSIDDIQ5@gmail.com

Edmonton, Alberta: FRIDAY January 31, 5 p.m. – 6.20 p.m. | UTC-07 Telus Centre 150 University of Alberta

Amnesty International – U of A Chapter organizes “The Friend I’ve Never Met” as a part of University of Alberta’s International Week.

Human rights advocacy work has an emotional impact, both on those who benefit from advocacy and on those who perform it. We will explore the connection between social justice work, solidarity and mental health with panelists such as Dennis Edney, defence lawyer for Omar Khadr, and Dr. Arlette Zinck, educator and advocate for Omar Khadr. Each panelist will share their experience and how their life and sense of community waschanged. A question and answer period will follow.

Amnesty The Friend I've Never MetFEATURING:
Dennis Edney, QC; Dr. Arlette Zinck, King’s University College; and other panelists

Sponsored by Amnesty International.

Please bring your friends, come listen to some new perspectives and join in on the conversation! Following the event, there will be a reception featuring student groups tabling about their advocacy work and refreshments!!!

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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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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Omar Khadr appeals two court decisions

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

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

Read more here:

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

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

Read more here:

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Court Decision on whether Omar can move to a provincial prison

Herewith the decision of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta. The nightmare for Omar Khadr continues. He has to stay, day in day out, in solitary confinement in a maximum security prison because the judge has decided this is the correct place for a child who has survived the horrors of Guantanamo.

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.

 

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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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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