Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Justice For Omar Khadr

The Trudeau government recently announced that it would not pursue the appeal of Omar Khadr's release on bail. That's a good first step, Gerry Caplan writes. But there's more that needs to be done. Consider the history:

The Afghan firefight in which an American soldier was killed was actually his first and only battle. Mr. Khadr himself was badly wounded. There is at least a reasonable possibility he did not kill Sgt. Christopher Speer at all.

Under the Geneva Conventions, which govern the rules of war, soldiers who kill other soldiers in battle are not committing crimes. Otherwise, how could we have civilized wars? Yet Mr. Khadr was found guilty of a crime that wasn’t a crime when it happened – if it happened at all. And he’s the only person in modern history to be tried for killing another soldier during a battle.

From the first, well before any trial, Mr. Khadr was treated by his American captors as guilty. Over the years, including when he was still legally a child, he endured physical and psychological torture, solitary confinement, endless interrogation, post-traumatic stress, and was subjected to a kangaroo court disguised as the American military justice system. A series of Canadian governments, both Liberal and Conservative, consistently denied him his rights. On his lawyer’s advice, he confessed to his “crime” for fear he’d never otherwise get out of Gitmo.

There are a number of debts which need to be paid:

The Conservative caucus owes Mr. Khadr his youth. Tom Mulcair owes him, finally, some serious attention. The Liberal government has huge debts to him as well. Some members of today’s government were also members of the Liberal government that so shabbily mistreated him and denied his rights from the get-go.

Omar Khadr may be home. And he may be out of prison. But the story isn't over. 

Image: cbc.ca


Lorne said...

Khadr's case has been followed by any over the years, Owen. Anyone with a sense of fairness would agree that not only does he require an official apology, which I doubt will ever come, but also financial compensation for the lost years.

Owen Gray said...

A great deal has been stolen from this young man, Lorne. We are supposed to have laws against theft.