Canada Agrees to Pay $10m Compensation to Brutalized Former Child Prisoner Omar Khadr, Held at Guantánamo for Ten Years

5.7.17

Omar Khadr, photographed after he was released on bail in May 2015.Please support my work! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months of the Trump administration.

 

Good news from Canada, as the Canadian government has agreed to pay $10.5m (about $9m in US currency) to former Guantánamo prisoner — and former child prisoner — Omar Khadr, who launched his suit against the Canadian government in 2014, after his return to Canada (in September 2012, after ten years in Guantánamo), but before he was freed on bail — in May 2015.

Disgracefully, the news has been greeted with a tirade of abuse — a deplorable state of affairs that I first noticed ten years ago, when I first starting publishing articles about Khadr (nearly 100 published to date), and that particularly came to my notice in the summer of 2008, after videotapes were released of Khadr, then 16, breaking down when interrogated by Canadian agents who visited him at Guantánamo, and who, he mistakenly thought, would help him. Check out some of the comments under my article if you want to see the kind of disgraceful comments that were being made at the time, and that continue to this day.

And yet the critics have absolutely no basis for their complaints, as Khadr was not only shamefully abused by the US authorities; he also had his rights violated by his own government, as Canada’s Supreme Court established in 2010.

As I explained in Canada’s Shameful and Unending Disdain for Omar Khadr, an article in January 2013, when Khadr was still imprisoned by the Canadian government, there months after his return from Guantánamo:

Technically, the Canadian government is entitled to imprison him for another five years and ten months, according to a plea deal Khadr agreed to in October 2010. Under the terms of that deal, he received an eight-year sentence for his role in a firefight in Afghanistan that led to his capture in July 2002, with one year to be served in Guantánamo and seven more in Canada.

Notoriously, however, the Canadian government dragged its heels securing his return, which only happened at the end of September last year, instead of in November 2011. This was typical, given that, throughout Khadr’s detention, his government ignored its obligations to demand his rehabilitation under the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, to which both the US and Canada are signatories, as did his US captors.

So grave was the Canadian government’s violation of Khadr’s rights as a citizen that, in 2010, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that his rights had been violated when Canadian agents interrogated him at Guantánamo in 2003, when he was just 16. The Court stated, “Interrogation of a youth, to elicit statements about the most serious criminal charges while detained in these conditions and without access to counsel, and while knowing that the fruits of the interrogations would be shared with the US prosecutors, offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects.”

Further confirmation that critics should be silent came from Aaron Wherry of CBC News, who began his article, Why will Omar Khadr receive $10.5M? Because the Supreme Court ruled his rights were violated, by posting a tweet from Jason Kenney, the former defence minister, claiming, ”This confessed terrorist should be in prison paying for his crimes, not profiting from them at the expense of Canadian taxpayers.”

As Wherry explained, “That much is consistent with a Conservative government that resisted repatriating Khadr, opposed his release on bail and might still be fighting Khadr’s lawsuit if it were still in office.”

He added that although the Conservatives are “now in high dudgeon,” they “should be familiar with both the 2010 ruling and a related judgment by the Supreme Court in 2008 that dealt with Khadr’s access to documents.”

He also stated, with particular relevance:

Conservatives should also be aware of their own precedent for such compensation: it was Stephen Harper’s government that agreed to pay $10 million to Maher Arar in 2007, acknowledging the Canadian government’s actions may have led to his torture by Syrian officials in 2002.

Three months ago, the Liberal government agreed to compensate Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin after an inquiry found the actions of Canadian law enforcement officials had indirectly led to their torture in Syria and Egypt between 2001 and 2004.

He also pointed out that there is “no argument now that any of those men are guilty of anything,” whereas Khadr pleased guilty at Guantánamo, although there is no reason to think that his guilty plea was actually a sign of guilt. As Wherry pointed out, Khadr “has argued that his guilty plea was the compelled result of a ‘hopeless choice,’” which he saw as “his only chance to one day return to Canada.”

I’d like to leave you, if I may, with a Facebook post by a friend, Elizabeth Pickett, which I think sums up the situation very well:

Well once again for Omar Khadr, in the face of all the hate. He was a child. At the very very least he was a child soldier but he might not even have been that. There is no reliable proof that he hurt anyone and very reliable truth that he was captured, deliberately injured and not given adequate medical care, illegally detained, illegally tried and tortured. Canada did absolutely [nothing] to stop any of this, to intervene on his behalf or to help him. We did much less than other countries did to intervene on behalf of their detainees illegally detained by the criminal state of the USA. Omar Khadr deserves every penny of the compensation he has been awarded and much much more. And no apology is adequate. I have no words for the contempt in which I hold people who are using this opportunity to express further racist Islamophobic moronic hatred. May Stephen Harper rot.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp. He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

31 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Good news is rare when it comes to Guantanamo, but this is reassuring – the decision by the Canadian government to pay $10.5m in compensation to Omar Khadr, former child prisoner, and former Guantanamo prisoner, who, as the Canadian Supreme Court ruled unambiguously in 2010, had his rights violated by the Canadian government during his ten years at Guantanamo, particularly in relation to visits by Canadian agents in 2003, when he was just 16.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Hoping this is getting out to people who might be interested – Aaf Post, thanks for your tireless work on Omar’s behalf, along with so many others over the years. Elizabeth Pickett, I shared your Facebook post, quoting it in my article along with excerpts from a good column by Aaron Wherry of CBC News.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    This was my 98th article about Omar – or featuring Omar – since I began writing articles about his case in June 2007! http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/category/omar-khadr/

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    ‘Guantanamo’s Child’, the 2015 documentary by Michelle Shephard and Patrick Reed, is online here: http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/witness/2015/06/guantanamo-child-omar-khadr-150531111517474.html

  5. paul siemering says...

    Thanks so much for staying with Omar all this time, Andy. He looks good in the movie- like he managed to keep himself together, which is not true of too many others. 10 million is not gonna pay for what they took from him, but i’m glad to see him get it- i hope he can have some fun now, buy some toys, make his life comfortable. Anyway thanks again for all your great work- its been really heroic,

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Here’s a good article by Konrad Yakabuski of the Globe & Mail – ‘Conservatives must move on from demonizing Omar Khadr’.
    The opening paragraphs:

    It was under a Liberal government that Omar Khadr’s constitutional rights were summarily violated, but it was under a Conservative one that he was transformed into the one-man wedge issue that would ultimately sour Canadians on Stephen Harper’s sinister way of doing politics.

    Have the Conservatives learned nothing? Relics of the Harper era persist in portraying Mr. Khadr as a “convicted terrorist” who “confessed” to egregious crimes that took the life of one U.S. solider in Afghanistan and permanently maimed another. They seek to stir up outrage at the Trudeau government’s decision to settle Mr. Khadr’s $20-million lawsuit against Ottawa for half that amount on the grounds that any wrongs committed against him have since been righted by Canadian courts.

    “The fact that he is living in Canada at liberty should be compensation enough,” according to Conservative foreign affairs critic Peter Kent. “After all, he is a former enemy combatant.”

    Stop it. Anyone with a whit of common sense, much less compassion, knows that the Canadian-born Mr. Khadr, captured at 15 in a raid on an al-Qaeda compound in Afghanistan, should never have been labelled as such. And that it was only in the fog of war that followed the 2001 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil that such labelling was ever allowed to happen in the first place.

    Then Liberal foreign affairs minister Bill Graham’s first instinct was to resist such a rush to judgment. On Mr. Khadr’s capture, his department issued a statement deeming it “an unfortunate reality that juveniles are too often the victims in military actions and that many groups and countries actively recruit and use them in armed conflicts and in terrorist activities … Canada is working hard to eliminate these practices, but child soldiers still exist, in Afghanistan” and elsewhere.

    The rest of Yakabuski’s article correctly criticises Stephen Harper and his ministers for their sustained demonisation of Khadr.

    See: https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/conservatives-move-on-from-demonizing-omar-khadr/article35556321/

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    A great article here from last September about Omar being welcomed to study at The King’s University in Edmonton, his friendship with Professor Arlette Zinck, who was allowed to visit him at Guantanamo, and, of course, the role of his lawyer – and surrogate father figure – Dennis Edney, who devoted his life to getting Omar free. Inspirational!
    http://www.universityaffairs.ca/features/feature-article/welcoming-omar-khadr-kings-university/

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Paul. Omar’s quite something, isn’t he? A lovely person who wasn’t crushed by his experiences. Perhaps that partly involves the elasticity of youth, but I think it’s actually a fundamental expression of who he is, his irrepressible self. It also helps, of course, that he had such great support – from Dennis Edney, Arlette Zinck, and everyone else who was able to peirce Guantanamo’s typical veil of secrecy and actually meet him, and get to know him – other lawyers, and independent psychiatric experts who, over the years, were allowed to meet him.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Another good article here, by Stephanie Carvin, assistant professor of International Affairs at Carleton University, former national security analyst and author of Prisoners of America’s Wars: From the Early Republic to Guantanamo – ‘The Omar Khadr case shows the perils of ignoring international law’: http://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/carvin-the-omar-khadr-case-shows-the-perils-of-ignoring-international-law

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Here’s an article about efforts by the widow of the US soldier killed in the firefight that led to Omar Khadr’s capture – and a soldier who was wounded – to challenge the payment: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/legal-battle-could-tie-up-payout-to-omar-khadr/article35565405/

    Tabitha Speer, the widow of Sergeant Christopher Speer and Layne Morris are trying to get the Canadian courts to “recognize the $134-million (U.S.) default judgment the plaintiffs won in a U.S. federal court in Utah against Mr. Khadr on June 8, 2015.”

    The article notes: “University of Western Ontario law professor Stephen Pitel, an expert on questions of jurisdiction and the recognition of foreign judgments by Canadian courts, said that although Canada’s rules are ‘pretty liberal,’ getting this Utah ruling recognized here could be an uphill battle. Prof. Pitel said the plaintiffs will need to show how the Utah court had proper jurisdiction over both a battlefield incident in far-off Afghanistan and a defendant who did not show up to court because he was in prison. Mr. Khadr’s lawyers could also fight the recognition by arguing that it offends the principle of ‘natural justice’ or Canadian ‘public policy.'”

    Dennis Edney said, “I don’t understand what basis in international law that they have in being able to sue Omar Khadr for the death of Christopher Speer on a battlefield, when there is absolutely no evidence that he did [what is alleged] other than Omar Khadr’s own admitting to it while being tortured in a place that is renowned for torture.” He added, “They are going to have quite a fight.”

  11. Anna says...

    Yes, and Dennis Edney now finally can present his bill 🙂 as he jokingly told Omar (“wait till you see my bill”) when he was released on bail (if I correctly remember the AJE documentary).
    But I would guess that for Omar the most important part of it all are the official apologies.
    As for Ms Speer, her vindicative persecution of Omar is completely beyond my otherwise quite eleastic understanding. I seem to remember her husband’s death might even have been a case of ‘friendly fire’ in the dark of the night and the clouds of dust from the crumbling mud walls. At any rate, it were the US soldiers who attacked the compound and therefore could logically expect return fire in legitimate self-defense in a war setting.
    But even if that frightened and already wounded kid had thrown the grenade – blindly, without aiming at anyone in particular in that litteral ‘fog of war’, will revenge bring back her husband?
    What a cold-hearted **** she must be to want to make a kid pay for her loss, no matter how great that may be? Former Guantanamo prisoners find it in their heart to feel and show understanding for grown-ups who knowingly and intentionally tortured them, yet she cannot find any for someone who never intended to harm her husband and even if he did harm him, it basically was an accident.
    Wish more ex-prisoners could have such an aftermath to their ordeal.

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for your thoughts, Anna. Yes, Dennis did indeed make that joke about what Omar owes him – very funny, I thought. he’s a lovely man and I was privileged to meet him a few years ago, before Omar was released on bail.
    As for Sgt. Speer’s wife, I can understand her loss, but it seems to me that she is a victim of the rhetoric of the “war on terror”, unable to see that her husband was killed in wartime by a child, and misled instead into concluding that he was killed by a terrorist. After all, it is her own government that repeatedly refused to recognize the rights of children at Guantanamo, refused to recognize the optional protocol about children in armed conflict that they themselves had signed, which forbids signatories from punishing juveniles for their alleged crimes, and requires their rehabilitation instead.

  13. arcticredriver says...

    Thanks Andy!

    All kinds of Conservative colleagues of Stephen Harper have come forward, and doubled down on his disgraceful bullying.

    The first years of Omar’s detention are when most or all of the abusive treatment that most people would agree constituted torture occurred. Prime Ministers Chretien and Martin, leaders of the Liberal Party that current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau now leads, seem to have done little or nothing to make sure Omar wasn’t tortured.

    But Peter Kent and other senior Conservatives have totally failed to acknowledge that Stephen Harper played any role in the breach of Omar’s rights under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms that make the settlement and apology necessary.

    The way I see it the Chretien and Martin governments have a partial excuse that Harper’s government doesn’t have. In 2002, 2003, 2004, it likely seemed almost inconceivable that the USA would routinely employ torture. The visit recorded on the video, where Omar [met] Canadian intelligence officials, was followed sometime later that year, or early the next year, by visits of some genuine diplomats. Some of their reports were published. I remember one that described his conditions of confinement as unacceptable. But, it said, US officials told him that (1) Omar would soon have charges laid against him; so (2) his conditions would then improve.

    Of course those charges did NOT mark a sign of better conditions. Once charged he was transferred to solitary confinement. And, of course, while charges in a genuine fair court of law might be seen as an improvement, as he would then no longer be held without charge, the Military Commissions have been the most famous show trials of the 21st Century.

    Of course Stephen Harper seems to have particularly targetted Khadr for malicious bullying, at a time when it was crystal clear his rights, particularly his right to a fair trial, were being abused.

    So I think it is fair to look to Harper’s former Ministers as more culpable than Chretien and Martin’s.

  14. arcticredriver says...

    The most recent development is that Tabitha Speer and Layne Morris won’t have time to initiate an injunction barring transferring his settlement to Omar. The Trudeau government, after several days of not formally confirming the imminent settlement and apology, did today transfer the settlement funds.

    I expect this will be a decision that will give more fuel to the haters who want to use Khadr to whack Trudeau.

    There hasn’t been as much coverage as I would like of something I strongly suspected. Legal experts think Speer and Morris would have stood a very very slim chance of claiming any of the settlement.

  15. arcticredriver says...

    Many Conservative MPs are calling on Omar to voluntarily hand over his entire settlement to Mrs Speer and her children.

    I will preface this comment with the observation that Sergeant Speer’s comrades say that he went above and beyond the call of duty, a few days before the fatal firefight, when he entered an active minefield to follow and rescue several young Afghan children who were wounded when they entered the minefield. So, he sounds like an exceptional guy. I imagine he was thinking loving thoughts about his own children, when he rescued the Afghan children.

    So, his death was a tragedy.

    But, it was a death in combat. Over a thousand American GIs died in Afghanistan. They all had families. All their deaths were tragedies.

    American GIs are volunteers, who realize that they may die in combat. They and their spouses must realize that they could be killed in combat, leaving children who aren’t yet adults. If I am not mistaken American GIs, Canadian soldiers, British soldiers, have spelled out for them what kinds of financial support their families will receive, if they should die while on duty.

    So, the families of the other 999 individuals who died on duty are making do with the financial support promised in their enlistment contracts. And if Omar was to give the Speer family millions, they would be the sole exception.

    I can imagine some people being highly critical of me for asking this question, but I think the Canadian Conservatives who are calling on Omar to give his entire settlement to the Speer family should explain why the Speers deserve more financial support than the other 999 families.

    And, of course, the entire settlement is not his to give. Some fraction of it is surely going to reimburse his lawyers for the huge financial outlay they have made.

    I don’t know how generous [are] the survivor benefits GI’s families receive. I am sure it is not $10 million. But if the kids go to University, the benefits to a family like Speer’s could eventually amount to more than a million dollars. A family of survivors receives that support as a matter of course. They don’t have to go to court, don’t have enormous legal expenses.

    Omar was interviewed by the CBC earlier today, and he mentioned yet another reason why a settlement is necessary. He described having positive feedback, during job interviews, only to be contacted by HR later, and being told the firms can’t employ an individual who is a “convicted terrorist”.

  16. arcticredriver says...

    In today’s interview, and in earlier interviews, Omar has seemed remarkably forward thinking, remarkably lacking in bitterness. Mohamedou Slahi also seems remarkably lacking in bitterness.

    This seems much healthier than the statements of Mrs Speer and the Speer’s children, who said at Omar’s sentencing hearing, paraphrasing from memory, “we will curse you every day for the rest of your life”

    I have a very low opinion of Layne Morris, because when he was routinely interviewed every time there was a new development in Omar’s case, he was routinely intellectually dishonest. He routinely claimed or implied he had meaningful insight into Omar’s character and motivation. I don’t believe the two ever had any window where they would have met, as Morris was injured prior to the four hour aerial bombardment, and Omar was injured after the bombardment.

    It seems to me that Morris’s opinion of Omar’s character and motivation are based on the same publicly available information as you and I. He clearly has based his opinion of Omar’s character on the infamous 2004 interview with his sister and mother.

    It is often reported that Morris was injured by the same grenade that mortally wounded Sergeant Speer. This of course is obviously impossible, given that the two events were separated by more than four hours.

    Morris has asserted, as if he knew this for a certain fact, that Omar threw the grenade that injured him. He has no way of knowing this. He has called Omar something like “the grenade guy”, which strikes me as both very unlikely, and as something he would have no way of knowing.

    Morris used to routinely call for Omar to face the harshest penalties. It is possible that Mrs Speer would have been as bitter, and had the same focus on hatred and vengeance, without Morris’s influence. But I have wondered whether his encouragement to her to join in that civil suit hasn’t turned out to have been a form of victimization – whether, without his influence, she would have been more able to forgive and forget, or at least forget, which I am convinced would be more psychologically healthy for her and her children.

  17. arcticredriver says...

    One aspect of the civil suit Morris and Speers launched, to get funds from Omar is not being reported on, and richly deserves coverage now.

    Morris and Speer launched an earlier lawsuit, against Ahmed Said Khadr’s estate. If I were the judge who heard their second law suit, in Utah, or if I were a Canadian judge, hearing their request to have the funds they were awarded in the Utah suit turned over to them, I would throw the case out, because the suit against Omar argued the exact opposite of the suit against his father’s estate.

    I’d throw the case out as I regard using diametrically opposed arguments shows a shocking hypocrisy and disrespect for the rule of law.

    In the first lawsuit they argued they were entitled to millions from the estate of Omar’s father, because Omar was just a child, trained thanks to his father, indoctrinated by his father, and placed on the battlefield by his father. So, they argued, because he was a minor, Omar himself bore no responsibility for any act of war he committed. Rather his father was solely responsible.

    Morris and Speers were awarded $10 million USD in that first lawsuit.

    In the second lawsuit they argued that it was Omar who was solely responsible, and that no consideration should be given to his age, at all.

    There was some reporting that the US Federal government would simply ignore the civil ruling of a state court. That reporting predicted that if the US Federal government ever unfroze Khadr Senior’s assets it would use them itself. Apparently, as the senior government, it could do that.

    I suspect that the reason the US government hasn’t seized the frozen assets is that the amount is so trivial, it just isn’t worth going to the trouble.

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi arcticredriver,
    Good to hear from you. I certainly agree that Stephen Harper deserves to be criticized forever for his racist hysteria regarding Omar.
    However, the problem for all those in high office in the early years – 2002-04 – is that from the very first moment any foreigners encountered what was happening in Afghanistan, even before men were sent Guantanamo, it had to have been apparent that the normal rules had been broken, and prisoners were being abused and treated unacceptably. I find it inconceivable that reports explaining what was happening didn’t make it back to the leaders of all these countries, however much those filing the reports may have tried to claim that extraordinary measures were, to some extent, required because of the perceived nature of the Islamist terrorist threat.
    So actually, I think there’s a huge responsibility on the shoulders of those who preceded Stephen Harper, because it’s obvious that the Canadian government knew that what was going on at Guantanamo was not acceptable, even as it sent agents to interrogate Omar in the summer of 2003.

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, unfortunately, arcticredriver, those who are only interested in presenting a biased view will, by definition, be excluding inconvenient dissenting voices, like those pointing out that compensation was 100% inevitable, given the violation of Omar’s rights, confirmed by the Supreme Court, and those pointing out that Speer and Morris’s case has little chance of success in Canada, as made clear here: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/legal-battle-could-tie-up-payout-to-omar-khadr/article35565405/

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    I absolutely agree, arcticredriver, that everyone who joins the military knows they may be killed in the line of duty, and I cannot, for a moment, accept that there is any difference between Omar’s case and any other combat deaths. it is one of the most disgraceful betrayals of the fundamental rules regarding warfare that the US attempted to pretend that killing a soldier in battle was a war crime. Of course, the shame of this – which took place under Barack Obama – was also compounded because the individual in question was a juvenile at the time (and in conclusion, it’s also worth mentioning that there is uncertainty regarding who threw the grenade).

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks again for your thoughts, arcticredriver. Omar and Mohamedou Ould Slahi are certainly both astonishing examples of abused people who have avoided rancour. Slahi, as Larry Siems told me, worked out that holding a grudge only poisons the person holding it, and hence forgiveness is the only course of action that allows one to rise above it and be free. Quite remarkable – and the sort of philosophy we associate, historically, with seers.
    In contrast, while I understand people’s pain, clinging to it is damaging to those holding onto it, but, sadly, is in tune with the drive for vengeance and punishment that is so strong in the authoritarian aspects of our governments and religions in the West.

  22. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, arctricredriver. I hadn’t paid attention to the Speer/Morris suits in the US, because I find them so objectionable and groundless, but it really is shocking hypocrisy on the part of the lawyers to argue one thing, and then argue the opposite. Fortunately, having submitted a case establishing that Omar was a minor, and not responsible for his actions, it seems to me that this can be used against the lawyers for Speer and Morris, to undermine anything contrary that they may try to establish.

  23. Concerned Canadian! says...

    You are all twisted. I work in human rights and advocate for real victims, this is the most disgusting, wrongful act I have ever seen. Basically the Canadian government rewarded this criminal. There are many detainees locked up in our immigration prisons, some for years because Canada can not send them home, they have done nothing wrong except not having Canadian status…they are locked away for many years and treated like criminals.

    How come you are not fighting for their rights to get a 10 mill settlement, their human rights are violated, and they killed no one. If this was your family member that Omar killed, you would not be advocating for him to be protected because he was only 15 when he killed your father, brother, uncle, son etc. His family is full of terrorist, his sister celebrated what he did, and he trained to kill. He was not an innocent child, because he left a safe country to fight in another country. Just like many children, he could have told his teacher or someone in Canada about his families abuse if he was not a willing participant.

    He was offered the privilege to live in a free country, yet his family chose to go over to other countries and inflict terror on others. He was not a child soldier… a child soldiers lives in a country in war, and have no options to escape or leave their environment, it’s kill or be killed. He had options as a FREE Canadian citizen. Go put your energy into speaking out for actual victims, and get help for your White guilt, because it is that which is driving your will to act. Of all the human rights issues to fight for, you choose to defend an actual terrorist…children are getting murdered, rapped and killed in countries in political unrest, and you choose to cry outrage for a killer who left his safe country to travel to kill a man leaving his family to risk his life for all Canadians, and Americans in the name of that country getting freedom from terror! Shame on You…and the Canadian Courts and Government

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    I agree that people in immigration detention could do with having the injustice of their situation better known, Concerned Canadian, and I often reflect that I should try to find the time to cover that issue as it relates to the UK in particular. However, the main focus of my work for the last eleven years has been Guantanamo, and will continue to be until that wretched dplac tis closed, a sit does not conform to the legal, moral and ethical standards we in the West claim to uphold.
    Basically, Omar Khadr was a juvenile at the time his alleged crimes took place, and both the US and Canadian governments had a duty to respect that, which they flagrantly ignored. Juveniles are not held accountable for their actions, and we are all supposed to agree with that, not to make exceptions when we feel like it.The Canadian Supreme Court recognized that Khadr’s rights had been violated, and this payment is a result of that ruling; it has nothing to do with what you think I think, and how immoral you think that is.

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    Here’s a useful update from journalist Michelle Shephard, who has been trying, responsibly, to deal with a barrage of abuse that has followed the announcement of the settlement – ‘Omar Khadr fact check paints a clearer picture of the case and the incident underlying it’: https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2017/07/10/omar-khadr-fact-check-paints-a-clearer-picture-of-the-case-and-the-incident-underlying-it.html

  26. Andy Worthington says...

    David Knopfler wrote:

    For anyone who doesn’t get it…
    ‘What if Omar Khadr isn’t guilty?’
    http://www.nationalobserver.com/2017/07/07/opinion/what-if-omar-khadr-isnt-guilty

  27. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, David. That’s a very good analysis!

  28. arcticredriver says...

    Andy, one of the inspirational things is the former captives, like Omar, and Mohamedou Slahi, who reject bitterness and hate.

    Did you see this recent article by Mustafa Ait Idr?

    Inspirational. I’ll save that URL, and offer it to anyone who complains muslims don’t denounce the violence of extreme jihadis.

  29. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, I just saw that last night, arcticredriver, and was thinking I should cross-post it, to see if I can get it out to a few more people who might appreciate it.

  30. Tom says...

    Everybody’s entitled to an opinion. AS LONG as you base it on facts, and not someone else’s opinions that they pedal as “facts”. That being said, it’s frankly offensive what many Khadr critics are saying. Nobody made him become a “terrorist”. He chose to do it. No. His father forced him to go to mosques to be indoctrinated as a little kid. He was captured and tortured while being held at Guantanamo. The Canadian govt. knew this and did nothing. The last time I checked, these are violations of intl. law. Does he deserve compensation? Yes. Why? Because you have to decide. Does intl. law mean anything, or not?

    Why is this offensive? One reason is because I’m a trauma survivor like Khadr. In my case, I was repeatedly raped by three psycho pedophiles who were never arrested or convicted. I can’t get any type of compensation. I can’t bring a criminal or civil case against any of them. Where’s my compensation? Where’s my justice? To some people, I’m their worst nightmare. Because of something that’s not my fault.

    Because of this, I have ultra severe PTSD. There is no cure. If you want to know more, do a search on Romeo Daliere. He’s retired Canadian military who was one of the key people in trying to save people in Rwanda’s massacre. I’m not ex-military. But I have many of the same problems that he does. Including torture flashbacks. And the pain never goes away. Thanks for reading.

  31. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for your comments, Tom – and given what has happened to you, which I had not heard before, that cannot have been easy.
    If people want to stand with Omar Khadr, a petition has just been launched, ‘I stand with Omar Khadr’, which states:

    The Conservatives just launched an all-out campaign to attack Omar Khadr and the Liberals’ compensation package for violating his Charter rights and letting him languish in an offshore prison camp where he was tortured for over a decade.

    Let’s be clear: this Conservative attack is a misinformation campaign designed for crass political gain. They’re fundraising off it, appearing all over the media (including Fox News), and spreading misinformation to fire up their base.

    We need to push back and remind the world that the majority of people in Canada stand up for human rights — and we’re standing with Omar Khadr.

    A massive open letter showing popular support for Omar Khadr and the government’s decision to compensate him for violating his Charter rights is bound to attract media, and can bury the nonsense, the naysayers, and the CPC’s ugly tactics. If we hit 20,000 signatures, we’ll even deliver it to Omar Khadr to let him know that there’s a groundswell of support behind him.

    Sign the letter now, then share it with everyone you know.

    See: https://act.leadnow.ca/i-stand-with-omar-khadr/

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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