There is now more evidence that charging Omar Khadr with war crimes was illegal.
- In order to charge him with offences that are not crimes under U.S., Canadian, or international law, the U.S. designated Omar Khadr as an “unprivileged belligerent.” The U.S. maintained “unprivileged belligerents” could not claim combat immunity or the protection of the Geneva Conventions.
- A recently released memo establishes that the U.S. knew the charges against Omar Khadr were not legal months before the U.S. offered a “get out of jail in 8 years” plea bargain to him. The U.S. Department of Justice legal memo dated July 2010, says there is no such thing in law as an “unprivileged belligerent.”
The Government of Canada also knew that the charges against Omar Khadr were bogus and could never be upheld by a properly constituted court.
BREAKING THE LAW: CANADIAN GOVERNMENT & OMAR KHADR
Omar Khadr was born in Toronto to Canadian parents. He is a Canadian citizen.
In its treatment of Omar Khadr, the Canadian government ‒ first the Liberal, then the Conservative ‒ has broken both Canadian and international law. The proper functioning of a democracy depends on the government respecting the rule of law.
- CHILD SOLDIER: Omar Khadr was 15 when he was captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2002. The UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, ratified by Canada in 1991, defines “child” as a “human being below the age of eighteen.”
- TORTURE: Confessions were extracted from Omar Khadr through the use of torture and other prohibited treatment, including threats, beatings, and prolonged solitary confinement. In 2003, the Canadian government twice sent CSIS agents to Guantánamo to interrogate Omar Khadr, knowing that U.S. officials had subjected him to prolonged sleep deprivation and isolation. It was only a federal court injunction that stopped further interroga-tions. Canada signed the UN Convention against torture in 1975.
- GENEVA CONVENTIONS: Omar Khadr was and is properly presumed to be a “prisoner of war” and is entitled to protection under the Geneva Conventions signed by Canada in 1949.
- CANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS: The Canadian Charter, signed into law in 1982, guarantees every Canadian 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.
“The case of Omar Khadr – a Canadian citizen and former child soldier – is a stain upon our society and shows a blatant disregard for Canada’s obligations under international law.”–Roméo Dallaire
OMAR KHADR TIMELINE
September 19, 1986: Omar Khadr was born in Toronto.
July 27, 2002:
●15 years old and living with his family in Afghanistan, Omar was rendered unconscious and blinded in one eye when the U.S. Army Special Forces bombarded the compound where he was staying. When found in the rubble, unarmed and severely wounded, he was shot in the back by a U.S. soldier.
●Instead of identifying Omar as a child soldier and providing him with immediate protection, the U.S. took him to Bagram Prison in Afghanistan where he was tortured.
October 2002: Omar was transferred to Guantánamo Bay, where he was held, largely in solitary confinement, for over a decade.
November 7, 2005: Omar was finally charged. The main charge was the murder with a grenade of Christopher Speer, a U.S. combat medic. It was later revealed that the U.S. military had doctored the field report, erasing evidence that a U.S. grenade had caused Speer’s death.
October 25, 2010: To get out of Guantánamo, Omar entered into a plea bargain, pleading guilty to five charges in exchange for being returned to Canada in one year’s time. He was sentenced to eight more years in prison, his release date being 2018.
September 29, 2012: After many delays, the Canadian government was finally forced by the courts to repatriate Omar. Shamefully, instead of ensuring his release and rehabilitation, the Canadian government had Omar incarcerated in a maximum security prison where he spent the first seven months in solitary confinement and had no access to rehabilitation or education.
Today: Omar Khadr is in a federal medium security prison in Alberta. Now 27, he has been illegally imprisoned for 12 years, almost half of his life. His sentence will not expire until 2018.
On Tuesday, an Alberta court ruled that Omar Khadr should be serving a youth sentence and ordered his transfer to a provincial prison. There, according to his lawyer, he will receive better treatment. The Harper government is appealing the ruling.
SOURCES AND RESOURCES
Learn more about Omar Khadr and his on-going illegal imprisonment.
Visit the following website: Lawyers Against the War and Free Omar Khadr Now: http://freeomarakhadr.com/
Watch the documentary You Don’t Like the Truth: 4 Days Inside Guantánamo, available on You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hx-0G_pAgPE
Read Roméo Dallaire’s They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children: The Global Quest to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers, available at Regina Public Library.
FREE OMAR KHADR NOW
Omar Khadr has been illegally imprisoned for 12 years, first in Bagram, then at Guantánamo, and now in Canada. He needs justice.
- Contact Prime Minister Stephen Harper and ask for the immediate release of Omar Khadr: firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-992-4211.
- Send the same message to Peter MacKay, the Minister of Justice, and Steven Blaney, the Minister of Public Safety: email@example.com or 613-992-6022 firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-992-7434
“For a person who has had to endure what he has in these kinds of settings now for 10 plus years, he has an equanimity about him and a sensitivity and a thoughtfulness that is extra-ordinary.”–Dr. Stephen Xenakis, a psychiatrist who has interviewed Omar extensively.