I have been following the Omar Khadr case for several years now. For those of you who are not familiar with this case, Omar Khadr is a young Canadian who has unjustly been imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay for the past 8 years. During this time, he has not had a trial nor has he been convicted. Furthermore, he is the last remaining Westerner in the prison.
I have raised this matter time and time again both in the Senate Chambers and in Committee Meetings. The most recent of which was today, when I made a statement which reflected yesterday’s development on the Khadr case, where Justice Russell Zinn, of the Federal Court of Canada, told the government that they had one week to come up with a list of remedies to fix their violations of Khadr’s rights.
In January, the Supreme Court of Canada found that the Government had in fact violated Khadr’s constitutional rights and ordered them to right their wrongs. Since this time, there has been little to no progress made, as the Government has failed to act on the Supreme Courts declarations. Therefore, Justice Zinn’s demand was more than appropriate.
Below is a copy of my statement from July 6th, 2010:
I rise before you today to speak about Omar Khadr.
Omar Khadr was 15 when he was captured in Afghanistan. He was just a child. He was there not out of personal choice, but because his father had taken him there.
After being captured Khadr was then transferred to the infamous Guantanomo Bay where he has been imprisoned for 8 years. He has grown up in this horrible place and remains there today as the last prisoner from the Western world. He is now 23 years old.
Yesterday, Justice Russell Zinn of the Federal Court of Canada gave the government 7 days to come up with a list of remedies for its violations of Khadrs rights.
In January of this year, the Supreme Court declared that Omar Khadr’s constitutional rights had indeed been infringed upon. In response to this declaration, Justice Zinn ruled that Khadr “is entitled to procedural fairness and natural justice.”
The Supreme Court, after acknowledging their wrong doing, demanded that our Government take action to come up with a remedy to right their wrongs.
Unfortunately, our government has made very little progress on the issue and has stated that Canada must let the US justice process run its course.
Our judicial system has looked at this issue over and over and on a number of occasions has ruled progressively on the matter. However, each and every time, the government has found ways of escaping their responsibilities.
The ruling yesterday by Justice Zinn was yet another example of the courts bending backward to accommodate the Governments inaction. Justice Zinn has now given the government one week to propose remedies on what they will do to fix Khadrs violations.
Justice Zinn went on to say that repatriating Khadr to Canada is “the only alternative remedy I can see that can potentially cure the breach,” of his rights.
Honourable Senators, I think we all know that this is the proper course of action in all regards. I urge the government, as I have done many times before, to listen to all Supreme and Federal court judgements including this most recent one.
Honourable Senators, let us do the right thing, let us bring Omar Khadr home.”
The Khadr situation is made much more complicated than it actually is. If one looks at the existing international laws surrounding this matter, one can easily see what needs to be done – repatriate and rehabilitate. Simply put, Khadr should be repatriated back to Canada and then rehabilitated. This is what the Canadian public wants, this is what the international community wants and this is what I want. Right now, the power is in the Prime Ministers hands. I strongly urge you to write a letter to Prime Minister Harper about this matter and demand that he follows international law and brings Omar Khadr back to Canada where he belongs.
Letters to the PM are free and can be mailed to:
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
111 Wellington Street
I have always believed that change does not come from the few, but the many. I hope that in Khadr’s case, this can prove to be true.