Seven Years Late
It was the British politician, William Gladstone, in the 19th Century who first said, "Justice Delayed is Justice Denied." Three weeks ago, we were reminded of this in the case of
Omar Khadr, a Canadian, being held in the US Guantanamo Prison Camp. He is the last westerner held there and he was a child of 15 when he was sent there seven years ago. Cruelly, he has languished there ignored as a child soldier, at times tortured, denied his rights, and toyed with in the Kangaroo Court the US set up to give the appearance of justice.
Worst still, he has been badly served by the Canadian government, first under the Liberals and now under the Conservatives. They have not stood up for this Canadian child who should have been protected by international laws, of which we and the US are signatories : The Rights of the Child and the Protocol for Child soldiers.
Finally, Justice O"Reilly of the federal court told the Government that they were not doing the moral and legal right thing by ignoring the plight of Omar Khadr. He basically demanded that the Federal Government try to have Omar Khadr repatriated to Canada, where he can be granted justice, a fair trial and rehabilitation as a child soldier.
In a long and scathing judgment the judge laid out the moral and legal requirements on how the Government had not fulfilled its duty toward Omar Khadr.
This pattern of behaviour is not new for the current Conservative government. They have failed to do all that they should be expected to do for Canadians who have been in trouble in foreign countries. I need not remind people at how the government failed Maher Arar. In the end, they were required to pay him $10 million dollars for their neglect and his pain and suffering. Currently, the case of , Canadian Abousfian Abelrazik, trapped in the Canadian Embassy in Sudan, caught up in a catch-22 nightmare in his effort to return to Canada is a horror story prolonged by the lack of moral and legal action by the government.
The case of Omar Khadr is long and complicated. He was originally accused of killing an American soldier among other "crimes". He was with some adults caught up in a firefight with American soldiers. The Amercians resorted in dropping two 5oo pound bombs on the compound the insurgents were in. Omar survived. For year the US claimed, as the last "man" standing he threw the grenade that killed the soldier. Last year, the prosecution accidently let his lawyers see an eye witness report by one of the soldiers which said there was at least one other person alive which the soldier killed and then shot Omar in the back twice, which left him badly wounded. It is unlikely a fair trial would ever convict Omar on this charge. Of course, as a child soldier he should not have been charged at all. He should have been repatriated to his country and undergone rehabilitation.
If you want to watch a short documentary on Omar Khadr's case go here to see one by the CBC that is a little dated but the basic story is told. And Wikipedia has a long report on him.
In the last three weeks their has been silence from the government. In the face of the legal demand that they make an effort to get Omar returned to Canada, they at first said they were going to appeal the decision. All there is is SILENCE. One get the feeling that they are ignoring the court and hope to delay doing what is called for. They can delay long enough that Khadr's case will be restarted June 1 making his return to Canada more difficult.
It is an outrageI The conservative government is being contemptuous of the legal direction from the Federal Court. They have an opportunity to finally do the right thing. With the Obama administration wanting to close down Quantanamo Prison, Canada could help them out by taking Omar Khadr off their hands. As a constitutional lawyer, I am sure Obama knows that his detention is illegal and the US is required to treat him as a child soldier.
We are all shamed by Canada and a Canadian citizen being treated with such contempt, no only by our close neighbour and ally, but by our own government which fails to do what is legal and moral on behalf of one of our children, caught up in the American Gulag.