CANADIAN COMPLICITY IN THE ABUSE OF OMAR KHADR:
ONE MORE REASON TO DEMAND OMAR KHADR’S REPATRIATIION
Last week Canadians learned about Omar Khadr’s subjection to sleep deprivation and isolation to “soften him up” for interrogation by CSIS agents in 2003. He was 16 year old at the time. We also learned that the Liberal government of the day knew these techniques were being used prior to dispatching the CSIS agents.
No Canadian government has defended Omar Khadr’s rights as a Canadian citizen during his six year incarceration in Guantanamo Bay. The recently revealed complicity of the Liberal government in his abuse is one more reason why the current government must take up his case. Here are some of the other reasons Canada needs to speak up and to demand that Omar Khadr be returned to Canada.
· Omar Khadr is a child soldier. When captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2002, he was just 15. International law says anyone under 18 is exempt from prosecution as a war criminal. In all other cases involving child soldiers, the response has been sympathy and reintegration rather than punishment. If Omar Khadr’s case goes to trial in October as scheduled, he will be the first ever child soldier to be tried for war crimes.
· Omar Khadr has been tortured. Following his capture in 2002, Omar Kahdr spent three months in the infamous Bagram prison in Afghanistan, before being transferred to Guantanamo. One of his main interrogators at Bagram has since been convicted of killing another detainee. U.S. interrogators’ routine use of torture at detention centres such as Bagram and Guantanamo is well-documented. Sleep deprivation, a tactic since prohibited by the US military, is a form of torture.
· Omar Khadr is being held under an illegal system. On three separate occasions, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Guantanamo detention regime violates the U.S. Constitution. In 2005, a Canadian federal court ruled that conditions at Guantanamo fail to meet Charter-of-Rights standards.
· The evidence against Omar Khadr is unreliable. Omar Khadr is charged with killing a U.S. soldier with a grenade. No eyewitnesses saw him throw the grenade. While the prosecution claims that he was the only combatant alive at the time, U.S. military documents accidentally disclosed the defence show that at least one other combatant was alive. It has also been revealed that U.S. soldiers were throwing grenades, raising the possibility that friendly fire may have caused the soldier’s death. The only real evidence against Omar Khadr is what he confessed to under torture.
· Omar Khadr is the last citizen from a western country still in detention at Guantanamo. Australia, Britain, Germany, and Sweden all intervened successfully on behalf of their citizens, leading to their repatriation.
Canada, on the other hand, has chosen to collude with the illegal system at Guantanamo.
Call on the Canadian government to repatriate Omar Khadr. Cut along the dotted line and send the following letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Office of the Prime Minister, 80 Wellington Street, Ottawa, K1A 0A2. A stamp is not required on letters to the Prime Minister.
Dear Prime Minister Harper
Please act to bring Omar Khadr back to Canada. Both Canadian and U.S. courts have ruled that the detention regime at Guantanamo is unlawful. Furthermore, under international law, Omar Khadr is a child soldier and hence immune from prosecution.
The previous Liberal government was complicit in the abuse of Omar Khadr, sending CSIS agents to interrogate him when it knew he had been subjected to sleep deprivation and isolation. This is an enormous stain on Canada’s reputation for decency and justice. Your government can remove this stain by seeking Omar Khadr’s repatriation.
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