Canadian lawyer urges Prime Minister to repatriate Omar Khadr

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Edney addresses the media.
Image: Joshua Sherurcij.

The Coalition to Repatriate Omar Khadr held a press conference in Toronto on Wednesday, where Khadr's lawyer Dennis Edney unveiled his reintegration strategy for the sole Western citizen still held at Guantanamo Bay, in hopes that he can be returned to Canada.

Edney presented his "plan of reintegration" for Khadr, which constituted maintaining distance from his controversial family while undergoing physical and psychological tests and counselling while the legal system decides whether to charge him under the Criminal Code of Canada. Nate Whitling, another lawyer representing Khadr, told The Globe and Mail that his defence team had "no objection at all to fair trial".

However, there has been no indication of acceptance of the plan from government officials, who were delivered an outline of the proposed terms of release earlier this week. Edney reiterated his plea for due process, urging the government to "accept our plan ... a plan that says something about who we are as Canadians."

Khadr, who was 15 years old and serving as a translator for Afghan insurgents when he was captured by American Special Forces in 2002, has been a controversial point in Canadian politics since his capture.

A protester stands outside the American consulate in January 2009.
Image: Joshua Sherurcij.

While the ruling Liberal party had initially made motions towards ensuring that the youth would face fair legal proceedings, they were superseded by the current Conservative premiership of Stephen Harper three years ago. Since then, the government has refused to intervene stating that the Guantanamo military tribunals constituted an "ongoing legal process" determining his fate.

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When Barack Obama announced the suspension of the tribunals and the closure of the detainment camps in January 2009, Harper maintained his position that Khadr did not constitute a child soldier and was better to be tried by the United States than his native country. Dismissing Harper's claims on Wednesday, Edney suggested that the Prime Minister "learn some international law".

Also on Wednesday, the leaders of the three opposition parties in Canadian parliament sent a letter to Obama urging him to repatriate Khadr as both the majority of the House of Commons and the population support his return and reintegration into society.

Last week, 185 Canadian groups and individuals accused the Prime Minister of "harbouring anti-Muslim sentiment" in his refusal to comply with international law, and public opinion, to return Khadr to face justice in Canada. A petition with more than 50,000 signatures was also delivered to Parliament Hill by representatives of Amnesty International calling for Khadr's release.

Sources

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