Omar Khadr, the Canadian citizen captured as a fifteen-year-old by U.S. forces in Afghanistan in July of 2002, has been classified an “unlawful enemy combatant” by the Court of Military Commission Review, a status which gives the much-critized military commissions system jurisdiction over his case. Khadr is now 21.
Although Canada’s Conservative government has been content to let a Canadian citizen remain imprisoned indefinitely in Guantanamo Bay, Liberal leader Stephane Dion recently called for Khadr’s release and repatriation after meeting with the young man’s lawyers.
If the U.S. is unwilling to guarantee that Khadr will be fairly tried in a court of law, Canada should demand his repatriation, Dion said, echoing an earlier statement he made in August.
“We won’t know if we don’t ask. We hope they’ll say yes,” Dion said at the news conference. “If the U.S. is not prepared to meet our requirements by transferring Mr. Khadr to American territory and trying him in legit court we will call for Mr. Khadr’s repatriation to Canada where it can be dealt with by our justice system.”
He said Australia, the United Kingdom and France have all had their citizens repatriated after filing such requests.
Dion’s stance adds further weight to an August 12th call by the Canadian Bar Association for the Canadian government to demand the release of Khadr so that his case can be dealt with under Canadian law. “Continuing to hold Omar Khadr in Guantanamo Bay is an affront to the rule of law,” said CBA president J. Parker MacCarthy.
Adding insult to injury, President Bush today criticized the members of the United Nations General Assembly for not upholding the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Bush described these principles as “liberating people from tyranny and violence”, “liberating people from hunger and disease”, “liberating people from the chains of illiteracy and ignorance”, and “liberating people from poverty and despair”. Oddly, he failed to mention the principles enshrined in the following articles, all of which are applicable to Guantanamo Bay and the worldwide regime of secret prisons, torture, and disappearances that his administration has constructed:
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.
I’m surprised the President’s tongue did not leap from his mouth for shame.