Canada in breach of human rights obligations in Omar Khadr case

Photo: http://winnipegpeacealliance.ca

On May 21-22, 2012, the United Nations Committee against Torture will review Canada's failure to comply with its obligations under the Convention against Torture to prevent, punish and remedy the torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of Canadian Omar Khadr during his ongoing detention at Guantánamo prison.

In a report to the Committee against Torture, Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (CLMG) state that Canada was both a direct participant and indirectly complicit in the torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of Mr. Khadr by his U.S. captors.

Omar Khadr is a Canadian citizen, born September 19, 1986 in Toronto, Ontario. He was 15 years old when he was wounded and captured by U.S. troops on 27 July 2002 during a 4-hour U.S. ground and air attack home near the village of Ayub Khey, Afghanistan.

Khadr was imprisoned at Bagram, Afghanistan until October 2002 and has subsequently spent a period approaching ten years at the detention and interrogation facility at Guantanamo, Cuba.

During his detention, Khadr was given no special status as a minor, which made him a child soldier and a victim of war crimes under international law. He was interrogated without counsel on at least two occasions while he was still a minor by Canadian officials who knew he had been subject to torture, including sleep deprivation and prolonged solitary confinement. Canadian officials then illegally provided the results of those investigations to his captors while denying him access to his own statements.

The Canadian government has also failed to take any steps to prevent or remedy U.S. crimes against Khadr including torture and other ill treatment, nine years of arbitrary detention without trial, denial of habeas corpus, denial of access to counsel, denial of access to an independent tribunal, conviction under retroactive laws, conviction based on confessions extracted by torture, and non-disclosure and falsification of evidence.

Mr. Khadr, now 25, has long been the only Western prisoner at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre not repatriated by his home country. He has been eligible to return to Canada since October 2011 under terms of a plea bargain struck in 2010, but the Canadian government has not repatriated him, nor has it taken any steps to remedy numerous breaches of Khadr's Constitutional rights, in defiance of repeated findings of the Federal Court and the Supreme Court of Canada.

 

LRWC and CLMG recommend that Omar Khadr be immediately repatriated, have equal access to and the equal protection of Canadian and international law and access to remedies for the violations of his rights and that Canada establish a Commission of Inquiry into the actions of Canadian officials in relation to the capture, detention and treatment of Mr. Khadr.

The Committee's review of Canada, which is scheduled to take place May 21-22 in Geneva, can be watched live http://www.treatybodywebcast.org/

Find a copy of the report here.

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