Sunday, October 05, 2008

Repatriate Omar Khadr now.

So say Lawyers Without Borders, the Canadian Bar Association, the Quebec Bar and many other legal organisations: "This is a clear case of disrespect for the rule of law." It is, it is, and I'm angered and ashamed by my country's leaders' timid inaction on this issue.

The Coalition to Repatriate Omar Khadr is currently holding a week of protests to draw attention to Khadr's continuing detention in Guantánamo Bay. Here's their statement of unity:
Canadian citizen Omar Khadr is the only Western national left in Guantánamo Bay. Khadr and fellow detainee Mohammed Jawad are believed to be the first child combatants ever to face prosecution of alleged "war crimes". Khadr was only 15 years old when he was captured by US forces in Afghanistan and later transported to the infamous US detention centre where he has now spent more than a quarter of his life. Khadr faces trial by US military commission. The military commissions fall so far short of international human rights standards that it is impossible for Khadr to receive a fair trial at Guantánamo.

Recently disclosed documents provide further details about the mistreatment that Khadr has experienced in Guantánamo Bay, where the US has been accused of systematically torturing and ill-treating detainees. Reports show that Khadr was subjected to extreme forms of sleep deprivation, a form of torture, including a practice known as the "frequent flyer program" in which he was woken every three hours and moved to a different cell for 24 hours a day over a three-week period. Khadr was also placed in solitary confinement for extended lengths of time.

Court documents also reveal that the Canadian government was aware of the abuse suffered by Khadr at the hands of US authorities, yet continued to assure the Canadian public that US assurances that he was being humanely treated were reliable.

We, the undersigned, ask that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Government of Canada:
• Protect the rights of all Canadian citizens detained abroad, including Omar Khadr.
• Respect Canadian and international law that guarantees the presumption of innocence, due process and protection against torture and other cruel treatment.
• Request the repatriation of Omar Khadr from Guantánamo Bay, and work with US authorities to return him to Canada without further delay.
• Guarantee that Omar Khadr be fairly tried in an open civilian court, should admissible evidence warrant prosecution.
• Provide the necessary resources for Omar Khadr's rehabilitation and reintegration into Canadian society.
Nothing really to add, except I was glad to see my local MP, Olivia Chow, out at the protest at the US Consulate today.

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