Omar Khadr Settlement a Victory for the Rule of Law

Omar Khadr Settlement a Victory for the Rule of Law

Postby Oscar » Sat Jul 08, 2017 4:48 pm

Canada failed Omar Khadr. We owed him compensation and an apology

[ https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion ... e35623662/ ]

ROMEO DALLAIRE AND ALEX NEVE: Special to The Globe and Mail Published Saturday, Jul. 08, 2017 12:33PM EDT
Last updated Saturday, Jul. 08, 2017 12:34PM EDT

Lieutenant-General (retired) Roméo Dallaire is the founder of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative. Alex Neve is secretary-general of Amnesty International Canada.

It is close to 15 years since the July 27, 2002, firefight in Afghanistan that killed a U.S. soldier, injured another, and left 15-year-old Canadian citizen Omar Khadr badly wounded and near death.

And thus began an agonizing and Kafkaesque years-long journey of injustice, suffering and abandonment for a teenager who was a child soldier and should never have been pushed into the middle of a war in the first place.

There is much blame to go around for the harm and wrongs done to Mr. Khadr. Clearly his father should never have put him in this situation in the first place. Undeniably, U.S. officials bear the bulk of responsibility for the endless human rights violations he endured – including torture, ill-treatment, arbitrary detention and an unfair trial – in both the notorious Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and the infamous Guantanamo Bay detention centre.

Canada was complicit. The Supreme Court of Canada has made that abundantly – in fact unanimously – clear; most compellingly in its 2010 ruling condemning the willingness of Canadian intelligence officers to interview a teenager who had been subjected to days of sleep deprivation, an agonizing and insidious form of torture.

Canada was indifferent. We were – and still are – a country that has eloquently championed new global standards over the past 20 years that lay out protections for child soldiers, and we have led efforts to end the terrible worldwide practice of drawing children into war. Yet when faced with this first example of a Canadian, one of our own children, needing that help, we looked away and abandoned him.

Canada was punitive, mean and vindictive. When Mr. Khadr needed his government most, when he was lost in the abuse and lawlessness of the U.S. government’s so-called war on terror detention regime, the Canadian government did not offer compassion and assistance.

Quite the contrary.

For years under the previous government, all Canadians heard from the Prime Minister and many of his ministers was vitriolic and toxic rhetoric about Omar Khadr the terrorist and war criminal. No acknowledgment that those accusations were dubious at best and, more likely, without foundation. And certainly no talk of a child soldier who deserved understanding and protection.

When Mr. Khadr needed Canada’s help in finding a way out of the Guantanamo nightmare, at senior political levels it was apparent that the end-game was to keep him there as long as possible.

It has, to say the least, been disheartening to hear reruns of this vilifying smear campaign in recent days. It has been particularly distressing to hear it so vociferously from the leader of the Official Opposition and a number of Conservative MPs.

They were presented with an opportunity to leave behind the ugly tone taken under the Harper government. It instead could have been and still is a moment to recognize the inspiring and resilient young man who has impressed so many Canadians, particularly in Edmonton where he lives since his release on bail more than two years ago.

It was and still is a chance to make a break with the past, recognize the harm that was done (which occurred, of course, under past Liberal and Conservative governments; this need not be partisan at all) and push reset.

We urge those who have once again rushed to demonize Mr. Khadr to think again. For he is indeed a victim of years of human rights violations for which Canada has much to account.

It is not a good thing that Omar Khadr, a 15-year-old child soldier, was in the compound that became the scene of a deadly firefight. It is reprehensible, in fact, that a teenager was in any way allowed to take part in fighting in Afghanistan. And it is certainly tragic that a U.S. soldier was killed that day, leaving behind a young family.

The way out of all of this sorrow and tragedy has been far too long in coming. It lies in the settlement that has been reached. And it rests in us, as a nation, collectively committing that, next time, we will respond with help and protection, not abandonment and insults, when faced with a child soldier in need.
Oscar
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Re: Canada failed Omar Khadr. We owed him compensation and a

Postby Oscar » Sat Jul 08, 2017 8:59 pm

The Country Paying Omar Khadr $10 Million in Compensation Is Not the One That Tortured Him

[ https://theintercept.com/2017/07/06/can ... illion-us/ ]

Alex Emmons July 6 2017, 7:17 a.m.

Photo: Michelle Shephard/Toronto Star/Getty Images

Last weekend, the government of Canada did something its U.S. counterpart never has. As part of a legal settlement, Canada agreed to pay $10 million in damages to a former Guantánamo detainee and U.S. torture victim. [ http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/omar-kh ... -1.4189472 ]

Seven years after the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that a citizen’s rights had been violated by his own government because of his detention and alleged torture in U.S. custody, former Guantánamo detainee Omar Khadr settled a lawsuit with the government for an apology and millions of dollars.

“Canada should be commended for taking this step,” said Laura Pitter, senior national security counsel for Human Rights Watch. “Unfortunately, the U.S. government, most responsible for Khadr’s mistreatment, has failed to fulfill its obligation to provide compensation and redress, not just in Khadr’s case but in the case of scores of other men wrongfully detained and tortured in U.S. custody.”

In 2015, after spending a decade in Guantánamo and three years in a maximum security prison in Ontario, the Canadian government released 28-year-old Khadr on bail. Khadr was only 15 in 2002 when he was captured and accused of throwing a grenade that killed an American soldier during a firefight at a suspected Al Qaeda compound.

He became the youngest prisoner ever held at Guantánamo Bay. Instead of treating Khadr like a child soldier and demanding his rehabilitation, the Canadian government sent intelligence agents to interrogate him. According court affidavits (NOT AVAILABLE ON INTERNET], Khadr told visiting Canadian officials that he had confessed under torture. He claims to have shown them his injuries, but the officials refused to help.

The details of Khadr’s decade long legal battle are complicated, but the result is simple: Khadr, now 30 and released on bail, settled a lawsuit against the government for $10 million and an apology.

MORE:

[ https://theintercept.com/2017/07/06/can ... illion-us/ ]
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Re: Canada failed Omar Khadr. We owed him compensation and a

Postby Oscar » Fri Jul 14, 2017 4:25 pm

Omar Khadr Settlement a Victory for the Rule of Law

[ https://www.ceasefire.ca/?p=25181 ]

July 14, 2017 Ceasefire.ca

(PHOTO: Child soldier demo UK)


“On behalf of the Government of Canada, we wish to apologize to Mr. Khadr.” – Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale [ https://www.canada.ca/en/public-safety- ... khadr.html ]

I hope Canadians take away two things today…. First, our rights are not subject to the whims of the government of the day. And second, there are serious costs when the government violates the rights of its citizens.” (Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould) [ https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/201 ... ement.html ]

The terms of the settlement provide Omar Khadr with compensation for the many ways that Canadian action and inaction contributed to the serious human rights violations he experienced beginning in 2002, continuing through three months in US detention at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, 10 years of imprisonment at Guantánamo Bay, and two and a half years of further detention in Canadian jails in Ontario and Alberta before he was finally released on bail in May, 2015. For more details click here. [ http://www.amnesty.ca/news/redress-omar ... ng-overdue ]

“Omar Khadr was a child soldier illegally interrogated by Canadian agents while detained and tortured by a foreign power. He was convicted by a kangaroo court.

The ONLY way that anyone can disagree with this assessment is to ignore international law, the Supreme Court of Canada, and a decade of rigorous reporting by professional journalists such as Michelle Shephard at the Toronto Star and Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald.” (Michael Byers, Facebook post of 7 July 2017.)
[ https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/201 ... ement.html ]

The settlement has proven to be extremely controversial with a CBC poll finding that a majority of Canadians oppose it. [ http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/grenier ... -1.4198306 ]

One of the most contentious issues, completely unrelated to the reasons why compensation was paid to Omar Khadr, concerns his confession and subsequent guilty plea to a charge of murder for allegedly throwing a grenade and killing an American soldier, Sgt. Christopher Speer. It is undisputed that Khadr was told he would never get out of Guantanamo Bay if he did not plead guilty. Click here for a review of the alleged evidence against Khadr – which casts grave doubt on the prosecution’s version of the case. [ http://www.nationalobserver.com/2017/07 ... snt-guilty ]

“Without Khadr’s confession, obtained essentially by force, there is no compelling evidence that he threw any grenade at all. No one saw him do it, and from all appearances he’d been under that rubble the entire time.” (Sandy Garossino) [ http://www.nationalobserver.com/2017/07 ... snt-guilty ]

But the lack of evidence is not the only glaring problem with the American government’s case for murder against Omar Khadr. Here is what Audrey Macklin, director of the Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies at the University of Toronto, has to say about the charge of murder: [ https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion ... e35552410/ ]

“Mr. Khadr was treated neither as a combatant nor as an accused criminal. Instead, the United States invented a new war crime called “murder by an unlawful alien enemy combatant.” The new offence made it lawful for U.S. soldiers to kill Mr. Khadr, but made it a war crime if he killed a U.S. soldier. This ersatz war crime was invented by the United States after his capture and then applied to his actions retroactively. No system governed by the rule of law does this.”

A terrible legacy of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s gross mishandling of this case is the distortion of facts for political gain, whatever the human cost. Click here for Michael Coren’s examination of this ugly phenomena – the antithesis of political leadership – which is now on full display once again. [ http://ipolitics.ca/2017/07/11/omar-kha ... nary-rage/ ]

We must not let this ugliness blind us to the significance of this settlement as a triumph of Canadian justice and the rule of law:

“Redress for Omar Khadr …. plays a critical role in countering the immunity for national security-related human rights violations that is by far the norm in similar cases. “ Alex Neve, Amnesty International-Canada [ https://www.ceasefire.ca/wp-content/upl ... -Khadr.pdf ]

At the same time the government must also go further and make systemic changes in order to avoid such horrendous abuses of civil liberties and human rights in the future.” (ICLMG and Rideau Institute Statement on Omar Khadr’s settlement) [ https://www.ceasefire.ca/wp-content/upl ... -FINAL.pdf ]

One issue not addressed in this blog is the civil judgement against Omar Khadr awarded to the widow of Sgt. Speer by a Utah court. Legal experts believe Canadian courts would be reluctant to enforce this judgement given its dubious legal standing. [ https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/na ... e35565405/ ]
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Re: Omar Khadr Settlement a Victory for the Rule of Law

Postby Oscar » Thu Jul 20, 2017 8:56 pm

What if Omar Khadr isn’t guilty?

[ http://www.nationalobserver.com/2017/07 ... snt-guilty ]

By Sandy Garossino in Opinion, Politics | July 7th 2017

EXCERPT:

"After all these years and coverage, it's plain that any competent defence lawyer could run a Mack truck through this case in a conventional criminal court.

It was Canada's job to raise hell about the railroading of a Canadian teen

Know who else should have run a Mack truck through it? The Canadian government.

It was Canada’s job to raise hell about the railroading of a Canadian teen based on a lousy case. It was Canada's job to raise hell about the torture of a Canadian kid in U.S. custody. Instead, we presumed he was guilty.

Successive Liberal and Conservative governments washed their hands of Khadr, only to aid and abet his Kafka-esque ordeal and trial by torture. Precious few stood up to take his side as he was convicted in the court of public opinion without a trial.

We were happy—eager, in fact—to strip him of his rights, judge him without even looking at the facts, and allow the American military and politicians to malign him mercilessly as they took every step to suppress the truth.

And though many reporters distinguished themselves, there was no shortage of media commentators piling on, sneering at the doubters and skeptics as do-gooding sissies.

The American torture program was a disaster. Extraordinary rendition to torture sites was a disaster. Guantanamo is a continuing disaster.

Instead of playing along as America’s trusty lapdog, the Canadian government should have stood squarely on the side of due process, demanding an accounting of the staggering cruelty and appalling ineptitude (or worse) behind this whole affair.

At every turn we should have called for a full, fair, open and transparent proceeding. We should have challenged the bad faith, the secrecy, the doctored reports, the contradictory witnesses, the changing stories, and the procedural bullying.

We should have demanded Khadr’s immediate return to Canada from Guantanamo, pending a full investigation.

If you still think the U.S. wouldn't fudge its reports to get the result it wants, google 'Pat Tillman.' Then consider whether the biggest clue to this whole mystery is the long suppression of reports that American soldiers in the special forces assault team also threw grenades during the firefight.

We had plenty of notice how this would all end, because we've been here before with Maher Arar. The day after Khadr, compelled by fear and abuse, falsely pegged Arar as an Al Qaeda associate, U.S. authorities spirited him to Syria by extraordinary rendition, where he too was tortured and imprisoned for a year.

That lesson cost us a cool $10.5 million in foreshadowing, but didn't teach us a thing. We turned around and did it again. To a kid.

Khadr was left virtually alone and helpless to fight the awesome force of American power from a cell in Guantanamo. He should have had the full weight of the Canadian government behind him pushing for the truth.

Plea deal bought freedom at a high price

Khadr's guilty plea bought his freedom, but at a heavy price. For that freedom Khadr traded, perhaps forever, the chance to clear his name and turn public scrutiny on those who abused him, who doctored records, who changed their stories.

As part of his plea deal, Khadr agreed to a statement of facts admitting to killing Sgt. Speer, and promised never to seek forensic review of the evidence which might one day prove his innocence. He also agreed to permit the U.S. government to destroy all evidence following sentencing.

As a teenager Omar Khadr was betrayed and exploited by every adult who owed him a duty of care, including his father who conscripted him into a terrorist group, and his mother who let it happen. Then he was abandoned by the one government that should have protected his right to a fair trial.

Khadr's ticket out of Guantanamo should never have been a guilty plea extracted by torture, fear and despair. Every other western country was getting its citizens out, while Canada let a teenager rot there.

Khadr's passport out should have been the birthright he was born with—his Canadian citizenship.
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