Saturday, August 9, 2008

Omar Khadr Lawyers sue PM

The Harper government will continue on its present course of never offending the U.S. or criticising rendition or the judicial process at Guantanamo even though many Canadian and International legal groups have been vociferous in their criticism of the military tribunals. The Conservatives probably think that the Canadian public cares little for the rights of anyone accused of terrorism. The Arar case was an anomaly and one that the government is bound and determined will never be repeated. The Iacobucci inquiry is a case in point. Almost the whole inquiry has been in secret and there are not even progress reports on the official website. Iacobucci has made it clear that there will be no attempt to clear the names of the three in whose names the inquiry was called. Even should Iacobucci in his report find shortcomings in conduct of officials, no one will be punished or held responsible. Indeed after the Arar inquiry some of those criticised were promoted. So much for accountability. The war on terror is in effect a licence for official wrongdoing with no recourse or accountability for the most part.

Omar Khadr lawyers sue PM
Guantanamo detainee's defence team asks court to force Harper to bring him back to Canada
Aug 09, 2008 04:30 AM
Noor Javed Staff Reporter
Lawyers for Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr filed a lawsuit yesterday to force Prime Minister Stephen Harper to intervene and repatriate the 21-year-old before he faces trial by a U.S. military tribunal in October.
"It is time for Prime Minister Harper to stand up for the rights of a Canadian citizen," said his Canadian lawyers, Dennis Edney and Nate Whitling, in a release.
A Harper spokesperson said the suit would have no bearing on current government policy. Harper has long insisted he won't get involved in the case because a legal process against Khadr is underway.
The suit's legal premise is based on Canada's obligations under international law to co-operate in the social integration and rehabilitation of children in armed conflicts.
Khadr was 15 when he was captured in 2002 after a firefight in Afghanistan. The Pentagon alleges he threw a grenade that killed an American soldier.
Khadr's lawyers had hoped that public pressure after the release of an interrogation video last month, showing the youth crying for his mother, would prompt the Canadian government to intervene.
"This is predictable," said Kory Teneycke, Harper's director of communications, of the lawsuit. "It's another attempt by Mr. Khadr's lawyers to avoid a trial, on the charges of attempted murder in violation of the laws of war, conspiracy, providing material support for terrorism, and spying."
"We have no intention of deviating from the course that we're on ...," he said. "Our position is the same as the previous Liberal government's position, that Mr. Khadr should face these charges through a judicial process, not a political one and certainly not a media one."
Whitling said taking the government to court is the only option left.
"We're getting down to the point where Omar has been in Guantanamo for upwards of six years and we think it's high time this proceeding was brought," he said.
"We were hoping it wouldn't be necessary."
In May, the Supreme Court of Canada concluded that Khadr's detention violated basic human rights norms. More recently a Canadian judge deemed Khadr's treatment by U.S authorities – including sleep deprivation – violates international prohibitions against torture.
The suit, filed in Federal Court, is modelled on ones in Australia and Great Britain. Those countries eventually repatriated their citizens from Guantanamo.
It's now Canada's turn to "do what every other Western democracy has done with respect to its own citizens," said Whitling.
Khadr is the last citizen of a Western country held at Guantanamo.
With files from The Canadian Press

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