The Unending Punishment of Former Guantánamo Prisoner Omar Khadr

A screenshot from a video of former Guantanamo prisoner Omar Khadr on December 13, 2018, outside the curt in Edmonton where he was unsuccessful seeking a loosening of his bail conditions.Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! 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. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.

 

Canada, contrasting itself with its neighbor to the south, the United States, likes to present itself as a beacon of justice and fairness, and yet, when to comes to the high-profile case of its citizen Omar Khadr, who was held at Guantánamo for nearly ten years, the Canadian government’s behavior has been almost unremittingly appalling.

Khadr was a child — just 15 years old — when, gravely wounded, he was seized by US forces in July 2002 after a firefight in Afghanistan, where he had been taken by his father. However, instead of treating him as a child who was not responsible for his own actions, and rehabilitating him, rather than punishing him, according to the terms of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflicts, which entered into force on February 12, 2002, and to which both the US and Canada are signatories, the US treated him appallingly, and, when Canadian agents were sent to Guantánamo to interview him, they failed to uphold his rights as a Canadian citizen.

The Canadian Supreme Court eventually delivered a powerful ruling regarding the violation of his rights, and, under Justin Trudeau, the government finally made amends for its behavior, paying him $10.5m in Canadian dollars (about $9m in US currency) in July 2017, following similar payments to other victims of Canada’s shameful post-9/11 behavior — a number of Canadian citizens of Syrian origin who were tortured in Syria (and in one case, that of Maher Arar, kidnapped in the US first, and then sent to Syria for torture) with the full collusion of the Canadian authorities. Read the rest of this entry »

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

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Omar Khadr Urges Canadian Government to Respect the Law While Dealing with National Security Issues

In the wake of last week’s attacks in Ottawa by a lone gunman, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, who killed a soldier at the National War Memorial and also attacked Parliament Hill, and another attack in Quebec, where a warrant officer was run over and killed, the word “terrorism” has been used liberally, and the Canadian government has rushed to release a new bill, the “Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act,” which, if passed, “will expand the powers of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service,” as the Globe and Mail reported.

The paper stated that sources had told them that the government was “weighing new tools to deal with citizens who openly support terrorist attacks on Canadians or back groups that urge this goal,” and that “the country’s top Mountie”  — RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson — was “calling on the government to make it easier to restrict the liberties of suspects in terror cases.” When senior officials start talking openly about restricting liberties, alarm bells should always start ringing.

In another chilling passage, the Globe and Mail noted that the government “has already signalled it’s looking at lowering the threshold for preventive arrests.” That is chilling, of course, because “preventive arrests” overturns the accepted concept of the law as something that is designed to deal with crimes that have taken place, not crimes that may or may not take place in the future. Read the rest of this entry »

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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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