GUANTANAMO IS HISTORY. NO MORE EXCUSES. REPATRIATE OMAR KHADR.


         

       


In 2002 the United States military captured and imprisoned Omar Khadr, a 15-year old Canadian citizen. Since that time, the US has held him in Guantanamo Bay without trial for six and half years, over a quarter of his life. To date, Canada is the only Western country that still allows one of its citizens to languish in a place Amnesty International calls “the gulag of our times.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has refused to intervene in Omar Khadr's case stating that he should face his charges through a judicial process, not a political one.  We agree. But the Military Commissions set up by then-President Bush, however, do not amount to a fair judicial process. The Pentagon's former chief prosecutor in Guantanamo, Col. Morris Davis, resigned in protest in October 2007 over concerns of their unfairness. Likewise, former Guantanamo prosecutor Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld resigned in protest in September 2008, stating that the Commissions "had defiled the U.S. Constitution and I see them as a stain on America."

Prime Minister Harper has also stated that Canada has received guarantees that Omar Khadr is being treated humanely. We know this too is untrue. In fact, in summer 2008, the Federal Court of Canada concluded that Omar Khadr’s treatment in Guantanamo violated the UN Convention Against Torture and that Canada was aware of these abuses when they occurred. On January 15, 2009, US military judge Susan J. Crawford, the most senior Pentagon official in charge of the Commissions, admitted that the US had tortured detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

US President Obama has described Guantanamo Bay and the Commissions as a "failed experiment." On January 21, 2009 -- on his first full-day in office -- President Obama ordered all commission proceedings suspended for 120 days during which time it is expected the commissions will be dismantled altogether. A presidential order calling for the closure of the Guantanamo detention facility within one year is expected in the coming days.

The Guantanamo prosecutors, the Pentagon and even the US President have lost faith in Guatanamo Bay and the Military Commissions. Canada's continuing refusal to intervene in Omar Khadr's case means that we are now the only country who still believes justice and fairness can be found there. They cannot. The impending closure of Guantanamo and the ending of the Military Commissions make this the time for Canada to finally stand up for the rights of the one of its citizens.

Enough is enough. It's time for Canada to act. Repatriate Omar Khadr.