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July 27, 2010

Khadr Clock – July 27th, 2010

Quick decision

Unfortunately, late last week, the Federal Court of Appeal sided with the Government in their appeal of Justice Zinn’s orders to produce a list of remedies for violating Khadr’s constitutional rights.        

Federal Court of Appeal Judge Pierre Blais’ made the ruling suggesting that Justice Zinn did not have the power to order the Government to ‘impose a remedy,’ to bring Khadr home. Blais said that Zinn’s orders would have required the judiciary to get involved in the foreign affairs of our Government - something which was improper for the institution to do. If Ottawa was forced to intercede in the matter of Khadr, it could cause irreparable harm he further ruled.

The Globe and Mail writes that presently, “Mr. Khadrs legal team [are] wondering whether its worth pursuing an appeal given how quickly [Khadr’s] trial is approaching.” Nate Whitling – one of Khadrs Canadian lawyers – has said that they asked for an expedited hearing on the appeal and were told that it wouldn’t happen prior to Khadr’s Guantanamo trial scheduled for next month. As such, his counsel doesn’t know if they will pursue this matter as it is “kind of a done deal.”

This latest development is a further unexpected impediment to the repatriation of Khadr back to Canada. With Justice Zinns orders, I saw a light of hope in a dark matter. However, the Governments appeal of that order and now the Federal Court of Appeals siding with the Government, has diminished part of this light.

I personally believe that the Court produced the wrong decision. It seems that the Court was more focused on the role of the judiciary in Governmental matters, than with protecting Khadr.

The argument that the Court made – ‘that the judiciary should not get involved in matters of foreign affairs’ – is one that has been used before when it comes to Khadr. However, I don’t see any weight in it. The purpose of the judiciary (in all its forms) is to make sure the law is followed by all entities and punish those that do not do so. The Federal Government should clearly be one of said entities. They shouldn’t be allowed to be some exception that is allowed to do what they want without being bound by rules and regulations because of what they are. If anything, they should be more accountable to follow the laws of our country and more susceptible to punishment if they don’t. Unfortunately, in the case of Omar Khadr, they for much too long have not been following the law.

At this point, with no other barriers for him, Khadr is ready to begin his trial next month at Guantanamo Bay.

However, we must not give up. We must still continue with our work to bring Khadr back home. It is the Governments fundamental responsibility to protect all its citizens and offer them proper avenues of justice. If we don’t remind the Government of this, who will?

This week, I want to change our call of action from a letter to a phone call to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister Office has a phone number set up (613-992-4211), where individuals like yourself can call to voice any concern you have. Usually, an operator will pick up and ask you how to direct your call. At this point you can ask to leave a message for the PM and she will transfer you to a voicemail.

Please call and ask PM Harper to repatriate Omar Khadr back home immediately. He belongs in Canada, not at Guantanamo Bay. Feel free to add anything else, but remember to be polite and proper.

Ultimately, if enough voices speak, PM Harper will be bound to hear and hopefully, act.


July 22, 2010

Even though the Senate officially adjourned for the summer just over a week ago, I still have a lot of work to do over the summer before the next session begins in mid-September.

Firstly, I am planning on adding new content to my website over the next few weeks. Specifically, I want to include the issues of the Air India bombing, Colton mining in the Congo, fistula and female genital mutilation to the site. I have worked on these subject matters for a while now and want to create a public domain for the information I have created.

I will also be travelling later on in the summer to both Pakistan and India. More specifically, I will be going to tribal lands of Pakistan to meet and work with local women living there. I will also be going to India with the Foreign Affairs committee to promote trade and strengthen Indo-Canadian business relationships.

Finally, I am scheduled to spend five days with the Canadian Navy in September while they make a trip from Seattle to Vancouver. I will be working very closely with them- eating and undertaking in their duties so as to experience how they live and operate while they work.

It will definitely be a busy summer, but I am certain that all the work I do over the next two months will help prepare me for the new Senate session.

I am planning to blog and tweet (http://twitter.com/senjaffer) about my progress over the summer, so please do follow me on my journey and comment along the way. You can also reach me directly by emailing me at jaffem@sen.parl.gc.ca.

 All the best.

 -Mobina


July 20, 2010

It has been just over one week since Justice Zinn’s deadline for the Government to produce a list of remedies for violating Khadr’s constitutional rights ended.

On July 13th, many Canadians, including myself, had hoped that the Government would finally have brought Khadr home from Guantanamo Bay after eight long years. However, to my surprise, when I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Marjory LeBreton, about what the Governments response was, she told me that they were going to appeal Justice Zinn’s order. Now that I think about it, it shouldn’t have been a surprise at all. This action was consistent with what this Government has been doing all along. Why should I have thought they would do anything different now?

Though this decision was not what I had hoped for, if anything, it pushes me to continue fighting for the sake of justice.

As Canadians I think it is our responsibility to support what is just and bringing Khadr home is exactly that. Canada has failed many times in the past in doing what was right (i.e. the 25 years it took for an apology to the families of the victims of Air India). Will we not learn anything from our mistakes?

In terms of what has been happening over the last week, the biggest news besides the Government’s decision to appeal has been the re-assignment of Khadr’s legal counsel. About two week ago, Khadr decided to fire his US military attorneys. He was frustrated with the legal system at Guantanamo and knew he wasn’t going to get a fair or just trial. He didn’t see the point of having lawyers represent him because he thought he knew what his outcome would be. The firing of his lawyers raised numerous legal concerns and put his trial into disarray. He would now be the youngest person going to a US military trial without legal representation.

The judge met with Khadr last Monday to not only confirm his decision, but to see if it would be legally acceptable. Eventually, the presiding judge at trial did not allow Khadr to fire all of his attorneys. The judge directed one of Khadr’s lawyers, Lt. Col Jackson, to consult with his relevant legal bodies to see what exactly his obligations as a lawyer were to Khadr.

Lt. Col Jackson, just this week, said he will in fact continue to represent Khadr as he is “ethically required” to do so. He added that he “intend[s] to provide [Khadr] with a zealous defense at his trial in August.” Khadr has now agreed to Jackson’s representation.

With this progress, the defense motion in regards to whether or not the evidence against Khadr was obtained through torture or coercion will go forth on Aug 9th.

I ask our government to act and ask for Khadr’s repatriation before this date. Our PM could take the initiative to end this ongoing plight for this child with a few actions.

In the next few weeks prior to Khadr’s trial, I encourage you all to write PM Harper a letter asking him to repatriate Khadr immediately. Letters to the PM do not require a stamp and can be sent to:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

80 Wellington Street,

Ottawa, ON

K1A 0A2

 


July 15, 2010

Today, Dr. Sima Samar, whose distinguished career in Afghanstan and abroad has given her worldwide respect, has received an honorary doctorate from Carleton University.  I had the pleasure and honor of being in attendance for this event.  I cannot think of a better person to receive such a prestigious award. 

Dr. Samar’s notable achievements include becoming the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Women’s Affairs in Afghanistan and is the as the founder and chairperson of the Shuhada Organization as well the current chair of the independent Afghanistan Human Rights Commission.  Dr. Samar has been a champion of human rights, especially on matters concerning women’s rights and education. 

I had the pleasure to be with Dr. Samar when she was first appointed Minister.  I was able to introduce her work to Prime Minister Chretien.  My personal experience of her is she is a very humble and dedicated person.  She is truly committed to the rights of Afgani women and is especially committed to ensuring that these women receive an education.

In her address to Carleton yesterday, Dr. Samar touched on just a few of the key themes surrounding women’s issues in Afghanistan today.  She talked about the history of women’s rights in Afghanistan, stretching back to the situation of women when Afghanistan was controlled by the Soviet Union.  She then gave a history of the situation of women during the time when the Taliban was in power and the severe reduction of human rights.  The fall of the Taliban government ushers in a new era of responsibility to ensure the protection of women’s rights in Afghanistan.  However, she states that they are far from perfect.  She maintains that some women “have not seen a doctor in their entire lives” even today.  She believes that “women in Afghanistan deserve freedom and peace.  In order for this to occur they must be actively involved in the peace building process.”  Without this level engagement in the political community, there would be little hope for the region to stabilize.  She urges the international community to include women’s rights, human rights and the economy as a definition of peace and security in addition to the absence of violence.  Her words could not be more accurate. 

Dr. Samar has been a champion of women’s rights and her knowledge and dedication have earned her respect in the international community.  Her hard work and dedication to women’s rights issues are truly remarkable the all women in Afghanistan owe a great deal to Dr. Samar.  I cannot think of a person more deserving to receive this honorary doctorate from Carleton University. 

-Mobina


July 12, 2010

Today is a sad day for all Canadians as we lost at the reporting stage, Bill C-9 (Budget Bill) by a vote of 48 to 44.

The National Finance Committee had recommended some amendments, but unfortunately these were not accepted by Conservative Senators. There was no objection by Liberal Senators in passing the budget, but it was felt that the Bill was stuffed with excessive legislation. Despite the fact that this Bill consisted of almost 900 pages and 2200 sections, it was only allowed to be debated in the Senate for a mere 6 hours.

Tomorrow we must turn a new a page and start the fight again.

-Mobina