Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace


Posted by strattof on November 18, 2009



Twice in the past year, the Federal Court of Canada has ordered the Canadian government to seek the return of Omar Khadr to Canada “as soon as practicable.” In making its rulings, the Court did not mince its words, declaring Canada’s ongoing refusal to request Mr. Khadr’s repatriation an affront to “a principle of fundamental justice.” Despite the Court’s stinging indictment, the government has, on both occasions, appealed the decision.

Tomorrow, the Supreme Court of Canada will begin its hearing of the government’s appeal. Three days later, on November 16, the Obama administration is expected to make an announcement about what it will do with Omar Khadr. 


Omar Khadr is a Canadian citizen. He was 15 when he was taken into custody by US forces in Afghanistan in 2002, after a gun battle in which he was seriously wounded. Accused of throwing a grenade that killed a US soldier, he was detained, first at the US air base in Bagram in Afghanistan, and then at the US Guantánamo Bay Prison in Cuba. Omar Khadr has spent more than seven years, a third of his life, in US military detention. His case has still not gone to trial.  


  • Cape Town Principles on Child Soldiers (1997), signed by Canada: This document defines “child soldier” as “any person under 18 years of age who is part of any kind of regular or irregular armed force or armed group in any capacity.” According to the Cape Town Principles, child soldiers are to be reintegrated into society, not punished. If Omar Khadr’s case goes to trial, he will be the first ever Canadian juvenile to be tried for war crimes.
  • UN Convention Against Torture (1975), signed by Canada: Available evidence indicates that Omar Khadr has suffered physical and psychological injury as a result of prolonged and relentless exposure to torture and other illegal treatment at Bagram and Guantánamo. While at Bagram, he was interrogated by Sergeant Joshua Claus, who was later convicted in the murder of a Bagram prisoner. In 2003, the Canadian government sent CSIS agents to Guantánamo to interrogate Omar Khadr, knowing that US officials had subjected him to prolonged sleep deprivation and isolation to make him more willing to talk. In 2004, the International Committee of the Red Cross reported that interrogation techniques used at Guantánamo were “tantamount to torture.”  
  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), signed by Canada: The rights guaranteed by the Declaration include the right of prisoners to have their case reviewed by a court of law, to a fair trial, and to not be tortured. None of the prisoners at Guantánamo have had their cases reviewed by a court of law. All have been held under brutal conditions, enduring solitary confinement and torture, for more than 7 years.  
  • Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982): The Canadian Charter guarantees every Canadian citizen “the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.” Those principles include the right on arrest to be informed promptly of the reasons for the arrest; the right to legal counsel; and the right to appear before a court of law. None of these conditions were met in the arrest and detention of Omar Khadr.  
  • US Supreme Court Ruling: In 2008, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Guantánamo system of holding prisoners indefinitely without trial is unlawful. Many nations recognized the illegality of Guantánamo from the outset and successfully petitioned the US government for the repatriation of their citizens. Canada is the only western country not to have repatriated its nationals held in Guantánamo.   


  • We can remain silent in the face of our country’s upholding of injustice and betrayal of human rights principles.
  • Or, we can let Prime Minister Harper know that Canadians find our country’s violation of human rights repugnant and that we want the government to act immediately to repatriate Omar Khadr. Call the Prime Minister’s office and leave a short message: 613-992-4211; or email

 MAKING PEACE VIGIL November 12 2009



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