THE National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) in Ottawa on Tuesday welcomed news of the federal government’s decision to apologize and compensate Canadian citizen Omar Khadr for his ordeal.
(The Toronto Star reported on Monday that the Canadian government will apologize to Khadr and has settled a multimillion-dollar lawsuit with him for abuses that occurred during his U.S. detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. The settlement is “reportedly less than the $20 million sought in the civil suit, but more than $10 million, which was what Canadian Maher Arar received following his yearlong detention and torture in Syria in 2002,” the Star said.)
Born in Toronto, Khadr was just 15 years old when he was captured in Afghanistan by American soldiers in July 2002. Described as a child soldier by the United Nations, he went on to spend nearly 10 years in the notorious U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay.
In 2010, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Khadr’s Charter rights had been violated by the federal government due to its involvement with his detention and interrogations in Guantanamo. The court determined that Khadr had been interrogated under “oppressive circumstances” and that the actions of Canadian officials “offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects.”
“We welcome this long-overdue apology and compensation to Omar Khadr by the federal government. It is the right decision in light of the callous and unlawful treatment meted out to Mr. Khadr with the complicity of Canadian officials,” said NCCM Executive Director Ihsaan Gardee.
“For several years, the NCCM, along with various civil society partners and prominent Canadians called for Omar Khadr’s just treatment. Mr. Khadr’s ordeal reminds us that every Canadian has the right to be treated fairly and in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice and the rule of law,” said Gardee. “His lawyer, Dennis Edney, along with the countless numbers of Canadians and others from around the world who stood up for Mr. Khadr’s human rights should be commended for their tireless pursuit of justice.”
ON Friday (July 7), Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, said in a statement:
“Today, we are announcing that the Government of Canada has reached a settlement with Mr. Omar Khadr, bringing this civil case to a close.
On behalf of the Government of Canada, we wish to apologize to Mr. Khadr for any role Canadian officials may have played in relation to his ordeal abroad and any resulting harm.
We hope that this expression, and the negotiated settlement reached with the Government, will assist him in his efforts to begin a new and hopeful chapter in his life with his fellow Canadians.
The details of the settlement are confidential between Mr. Khadr and the Government.”
SO what is the TRUTH about Khadr?
The whole case was explained in Rattan’s Rumble column in July 2014 in a piece titled “Harper should leave Omar Khadr alone!”
Here is the edited write-up that exposed the shameless racism of the Conservative Party and other right-wing nuts:
TORONTO-BORN Khadr was just 15 years old when he was captured in Afghanistan by American troops after a firefight in 2002 and he was returned to Canada in 2012. Then-prime minister Stephen Harper disgraced himself internationally by dragging his feet in bringing him back to Canada.
Canadian Bar Association President J. Parker MacCarthy rebuked Harper back in 2008 in a stinging letter on behalf of that body: “Canada is the only western country with a citizen still detained at Guantanamo. Both Australia and the U.K. acted to repatriate their detained citizens. It is not enough to accept assurances from the U.S. government that “due process” is being followed. This situation demands immediate action on behalf of the Canadian government.”
In 2012, the CBC reported: “Dr. Steven Xenakis, a U.S. Army psychiatrist who spent more than 200 hours with Khadr since 2008 assessing him for his military defence, has said he is no threat to Canadian society.”
CBC also reported that Arlette Zinck, an English professor at Edmonton’s King University’s College, who had spent almost two years tutoring Khadr said that her institution would welcome him as a student and that he “stands a very good chance of making a significant positive contribution to Canadian life.”
She added: “He’s a very capable and very appreciative student who desires to learn in a more traditional setting.”
In October 2013, Alberta Associate Chief Justice John Rooke ruled that Khadr would remain at Edmonton’s maximum-security penitentiary. The federal government had argued that Khadr was given eight years as a youth for murder and the sentences on the other four offences were to be served concurrently as an adult.
Khadr’s lawyer Dennis Edney had argued that he should be treated as a young offender and moved to a provincial jail. He had called the government’s position an “absurdity” and had filed an affidavit from a U.S. military law expert stating that there’s no such thing as concurrent sentences in their law books.
Edney had explained the whole situation this way: “It requires a determination be made whether the sentence he received in Guantanamo, if it occurred here in Canada, would be treated as a youth sentence. And we say yes.”
Harper was so shameless that even before the judge gave his ruling, he actually said at a news conference: “This is an individual who, as you know, pled guilty to very serious crimes including murder and it is very important that we continue to vigorously defend against any attempts, in court, to lessen his punishment for these heinous acts.”
Harper should have kept his mouth shut instead of trying to influence the judge.
IN July 2014, Harper received a slap in the face from the Alberta Court of Appeal that ordered Khadr to be transferred to a provincial jail. The court in its unanimous decision said: “We conclude that Khadr ought to have been placed in a provincial correctional facility for adults.”
Edney quite rightly in a statement said that the federal government would “rather pander to politics than to apply the rule of law fairly to each and every Canadian citizen.”
He added: “This government chose to misinterpret the International Transfer of Offenders Act and place Omar in a maximum security prison, where he spent the first seven months in solitary confinement, instead treating him as a youth as required under both Canadian and international law.”
The Globe and Mail newspaper in an editorial titled, “Every Canadian deserves justice. Even Omar Khadr,” noted: “Mr. Khadr was sentenced by a kangaroo court [in the U.S.], one worthy of a Middle Eastern dictatorship or Kafka short story. Or as the Alberta Court of Appeal put it this week, in drily damning language, “the legal process under which Khadr was held and the evidence elicited from him have been found to have violated both the Charter and international human rights law.” The Supreme Court of Canada has also said as much.”
It concluded: “There are some who seem to believe that treating Mr. Khadr anything other than harshly is an appeasement of terrorism, or a spit in the face of our American allies, or a shot against our brave soldiers who fought in Afghanistan. But what were we fighting for in Afghanistan except the hope that others might one day live in a society like ours: A society built on justice and the rule of law.”
The Toronto Star in its editorial titled, “Ottawa’s spiteful treatment of Omar Khadr is a travesty of justice,” lambasted Harper left, right and centre.
It noted: “Omar Khadr has spent nearly half his life in prison. He should have been freed years ago. Yet Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s spiteful government seems bent on making sure he stays behind bars.”
It also noted: “Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said that Khadr was guilty of “heinous crimes,” though he was a minor under his father’s abusive control. This is consistent with the Conservative government’s shameless decision to abandon him to a U.S. military process that President Barack Obama himself described as a “legal black hole.””
The scathing editorial concluded: “This case has shamed Canada from start to finish. Khadr has already passed his parole eligibility date and can now apply at any time. But as a young offender in provincial custody he could not only apply for release to the Parole Board of Canada but also to a youth court judge. That’s something the federal government is clearly striving to prevent.
“By any stretch of the imagination Khadr has done time enough. The federal government is being harshly vindictive.”