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February 12, 2009

Canadian lawyer urges Prime Minister to repatriate Omar Khadr

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Liberal party had initially made motions towards ensuring that the youth would face fair legal proceedings, they were superseded by the current Conservative premiership of Stephen Harper three years ago.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.

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Other Canadian stories
  • 22 October 2014: One confirmed dead after shooting at National War Memorial in Ottawa
  • 3 July 2014: Indian space agency launches five foreign satellites
  • 29 June 2014: Canada wins 2014 Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championship
  • 28 June 2014: Germany and Canada into 2014 Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championships final
  • 27 June 2014: Germany, Netherlands, Canada and USA into Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Championships semi-finals
…More articles here
 

 

 

 

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November 1, 2008

General who oversaw military tribunals at Guantanamo is being investigated for abuse of power

General who oversaw military tribunals at Guantanamo is being investigated for abuse of power

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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Brigadier General Thomas W. Hartmann, USAFR, at a press briefing on March 31, 2008.

Brigadier General Thomas W. Hartmann, an officer in the United States Air Force Reserve, is the subject of two new investigations. Both center on whether Hartmann abused his power as the Legal Adviser to the Convening Authority in the Department of Defense Office of Military Commissions. He no longer holds this position.

The United States Air Force is conducting an ethics probe after a preliminary investigation concluded that there were sufficient grounds to move forward. The inquiry is investigating allegations that cases which were not ready for trial moved ahead because Hartmann bullied prosecutors and logistics officials.

The other investigation is being conducted by the United States Department of Defense which is looking into complaints by at least two military officials that Hartmann acted in an abusive and retaliatory manner towards them while they served at the Office of Military Commissions.

These probes will “cast doubt on all of the decisions that have been taken under his tenure,” predicted Hina Shamsi, who serves as official trial observer at Guantanamo for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Hartmann was recalled to active duty in July 2007 and appointed the Legal Advisor to the civilian official — known as the Convening Authority — in charge of Office of Military Commissions. The position of Convening Authority has been filled by Susan J. Crawford since February 2007. Hartmann’s active duty term was to be for a two year term.

The duties of the Legal Advisor to Convening Authority included providing general oversight of the Prosecution and Defense teams, and providing advice to the convening authority when appeals are made.

Brigadier General Thomas W. Hartmann tours Guantanamo in 2007.

When Hartmann was appointed the Chief Prosecutor, Colonel Morris Davis was on medical leave. Hartmann was dissatisfied with the process of the commissions. In the nine months since the passage of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 only three captives had been charged. Hartmann is reported to have intervened in the operation of the Prosecution, pressuring Prosecutors to initiate charges against the captives suspected of being the more senior members of al-Qaeda.

When Davis returned from his medical leave, he and Hartmann clashed. Davis felt Hartmann had improperly over-stepped his assigned duties, usurping his own role.

Davis reported that his approach had been to charge captives whose trials could be conducted without access to secret evidence, and without access to evidence coerced through the use of torture or questionable interrogation techniques.

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In October 2007, Davis went public and suggested that both he and Hartmann resign from the Office of Military Commissions. A military inquiry at the time censured Davis, who did resign from the Office of Military Commissions, and has subsequently testified against Hartmann.

The Presiding Officers of three of the Military Commissions heard testimony from Hartmann and eventually barred him from participation in the cases before them, because they believed he had exercised “illegal command influence”.

Stephen R. Henley — the Presiding Officer of Mohammed Jawad’s commission, who barred Hartmann from further participation — wrote on August 14, 2008:

“…a Legal Advisor’s post trial responsibilities necessitate he act in a quasi-judicial role; one where he must remain neutral and unbiased. The Commission finds the current Legal Advisor’s editorial writings and interviews defending the military commissions’ system combined with his active and vocal support of and desire to manage the military commissions process and public statements appearing to directly align himself with the prosecution team have compromised the objectivity necessary to dispassionately and fairly evaluate the evidence and prepare the post trial recommendation.”

After Colonel Patrick Parrish barred Hartmann from participation in Omar Khadr’s commission, Hartmann’s subordinate was promoted to replace him. Hartmann was moved to a new position, where he served over the Prosecution. Pentagon officials described it as a lateral move. Air Force officials described it as a promotion.

On November 2, 2008 Carol Rosenberg, writing in the Miami Herald, reported that Hartmann had filed a request to retire from the Air Force on 17 February 2008. Hartmann’s superior at the Pentagon, William J. Haynes, had announced his resignation in February.



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September 25, 2008

CanadaVOTES: NDP incumbent Wayne Marston running in Hamilton East—Stoney Creek

CanadaVOTES: NDP incumbent Wayne Marston running in Hamilton East—Stoney Creek

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

CanadaVOTES
Interview series
2008 Canadian federal election

ALBERTA
Calgary Southwest: CHP
Edmonton—Leduc: NDP
Yellowhead: CHP

BRITISH COLUMBIA
Langley: CHP*
Vancouver Kingsway: NDP

MANITOBA
Brandon—Souris: CHP

NOVA SCOTIA
Dartmouth—Cole Harbour: CHP

ONTARIO
Cambridge: NDP
Carleton—Mississippi Mills: NDP
Don Valley West: NDP
Elgin—Middlesex—London: NDP
Haldimand—Norfolk: LIB, CHP
Hamilton Centre: NDP i
Hamilton East—Stoney Creek: NDP i
Lanark-Front.-Lennox & Addin.: LIB
Parry Sound—Muskoka: NDP
Perth—Wellington: LIB
Prince Edward—Hastings: NDP
Simcoe—Grey: NDP
Thornhill: LIB i
Toronto Centre: AAEV*
Toronto—Danforth: LIB, AAEV
York—Simcoe: CHP

QUEBEC
Louis-Hébert: CHP
Westmount—Ville-Marie: NDP

SASKATCHEWAN
Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar: Lbtn

* Asterisks designate riding incumbents or registered political party leaders.
The letter “i” after a party abbreviation signifies an incumbent MP response.

To write, edit, start or view other Canada articles, see the Canada Portal

On October 14, 2008, Canadians will be heading to the polls for the federal election. New Democratic Party incumbent Wayne Marston is standing for re-election in the riding of Hamilton East—Stoney Creek.

Marston ran in the former federal riding Hamilton East three times, in 1993 and 1997 election and 1996 by-election, losing to prominent Liberal Shelia Copps. Prior to his winning election campaign in 2006, Marston was President of the Hamilton and District Labour Council, serving for 11 years. He was also a School Board Trustee (Ward 5) for the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board from 2000 to 2006.

Wikinews contacted Wayne, to talk about the issues facing Canadians, and what they and their party would do to address them. Wikinews is in the process of contacting every candidate, in every riding across the country, no matter their political stripe. All interviews are conducted over e-mail, and interviews are published unedited, allowing candidates to impart their full message to our readers, uninterrupted.

This riding consists of the part of the Hamilton lying north of the Niagara Escarpment and east of Ottawa Street. It was formed in 2003 from parts of the old ridings Hamilton East and Stoney Creek. Wanting to take Marston’s seat from his are Liberal Larry Di Ianni, Green David William Hart Dyke, and Conservative Frank Rukavina. A candidate from the newly formed Progressive Canadian party, Gord Hill, as well as independent Sam Cino are also running.

For more information, visit the campaign’s official website, listed below.

Interview

Why did you choose to run for office, and why do you wish to continue as an MP?

Forty years ago, I moved to Hamilton. I’ve lived and worked there ever since. I quickly became involved in the union and held many positions over the years. In 1995 I retired from Bell Canada and served as the President of the Hamilton and District Labour Council for 11 years.
During this time, we saw growth and then we saw the loss of good paying manufacturing jobs. This scarred our community. Hamilton is a city that has so much potential. Unfortunately, we saw the loss of thousands of good paying that could have supported a family; and no one stepped up to help us.
I wanted to give something back to this amazing community which has helped me raise my children and grandchildren, so in 2000, I decided to get involved in politics. I realized that our families needed more than empty promises from their elected representatives.
This led me to run in 2006 as the NDP’s candidate in the federal election.
I have strived to ensure that my office works for its community, cares and brings fairness and honesty to Canadians.
In 2006, I didn’t run to become the typical politician who leaves for Ottawa and forgets about the people and organizations that elected them; or the politician who uses this position for their own gain; that’s not what this community needs or deserves.
As an MP, I will continue to fight for the issues that are important to Canadian families, to ensure that my neighbours are getting the help they need from their government.

Are you satisfied with your time as MP? What would be the biggest highlights of the roughly two years since the last election?

I am proud of the issues that I have been able to address in the House of Commons and in my community. I seconded Jack Layton’s Environmental Protection Bill which tackles climate change and sets measurable targets to reduce carbon emissions every year. I introduced a bill on Amateur Sport Financing to give athletes a helping hand and worked on the Subcommittee on International Human Rights to address abuses such as the case of Omar Khadr, Huseyincan Celil and Japanese Comfort Women.
In Hamilton, I have worked to help families with CPP, EI, Immigration and Revenue Canada issues, had funding restored to local youth programmes through Canada Summer Jobs, helped eligible constituents collect over $750,000 through the Disability Tax Credit and hosted seminars to help people apply, co-hosted a public forum to raise awareness for Turtle Ponds, the environmentally sensitive wetlands, started a petition and postcard campaign in support of Billy Mason’s family and demanded that the Conservative Government establish a National DNA Databank for Missing Persons, ensured that the entire Pakistan Team could attend the 2008 World Kabaddi Tournament held in Hamilton this August
The biggest disappointment? It is difficult to be in opposition and watch the Conservative Government and the supporting Liberal Opposition push through legislation that actively works against ordinary Canadians. People elect a representative to help them, not hurt them.

As you campaign around your riding, it’s likely that some issues are mentioned more often by voters, than other issues. What would you say are the three hottest topics this election, in your riding? What would you and your party do to address these issues?

I have heard from a lot of people that their big concerns are the economy, health care and the environment.
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This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

Is there any misconceptions about you, your leader, or your party and platform?

I think the biggest wall the NDP comes up against is that people are disenfranchised from politics because Conservatives and Liberals claim “The NDP has no chance of forming a government, so don’t waste your vote on them.” However, in the last two elections, 1.5 million more Canadians voted NDP – more than doubling the NDP’s representation in the House of Commons. Liberals on the other hand, have lost almost 800,000 votes and over 40% of their caucus. A vote for the NDP elects an NDP MP. People said the NDP could never win in a Liberal stronghold in Montreal, but in September 2007, that’s exactly what we did with Thomas Mulcair in Outremont.

There are more ways than ever to get your message out, from the traditional campaign fliers and lawn signs, to new media like websites, Facebook, and YouTube. The tried-and-true routes get the message out to the masses much easier, but digital alternatives are much more measurable in how many are seeing or interacting with your campaign. What seems to be the most effective, from your experience?

We are so pleased that these new and accessible forms of media are making waves in the traditional campaign strategies. They provide information to so many more people than we could reach by phone or foot and it reaches out to a greater number of young voters. We have a website, a Facebook page, I’ve just finished taping a video that we will be putting up on YouTube and of course the NDP has launched a new multimedia site called the “Orange Room” which features the NDP’s videos, pictures from the campaign trail, applications for facebook pages, blogging tools and links to the latest news about the NDP. It is definitely a medium that we are plugged into.

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September 23, 2008

CanadaVOTES: NDP candidate Hana Razga running in Edmonton—Leduc

CanadaVOTES: NDP candidate Hana Razga running in Edmonton—Leduc

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

CanadaVOTES
Interview series
2008 Canadian federal election

ALBERTA
Calgary Southwest: CHP
Edmonton—Leduc: NDP
Yellowhead: CHP

BRITISH COLUMBIA
Langley: CHP*
Vancouver Kingsway: NDP

MANITOBA
Brandon—Souris: CHP

NOVA SCOTIA
Dartmouth—Cole Harbour: CHP

ONTARIO
Cambridge: NDP
Carleton—Mississippi Mills: NDP
Don Valley West: NDP
Elgin—Middlesex—London: NDP
Haldimand—Norfolk: LIB, CHP
Hamilton Centre: NDP i
Hamilton East—Stoney Creek: NDP i
Lanark-Front.-Lennox & Addin.: LIB
Parry Sound—Muskoka: NDP
Perth—Wellington: LIB
Prince Edward—Hastings: NDP
Simcoe—Grey: NDP
Thornhill: LIB i
Toronto Centre: AAEV*
Toronto—Danforth: LIB, AAEV
York—Simcoe: CHP

QUEBEC
Louis-Hébert: CHP
Westmount—Ville-Marie: NDP

SASKATCHEWAN
Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar: Lbtn

* Asterisks designate riding incumbents or registered political party leaders.
The letter “i” after a party abbreviation signifies an incumbent MP response.

To write, edit, start or view other Canada articles, see the Canada Portal

On October 14, 2008, Canadians will be heading to the polls for the federal election. New Democratic Party candidate Hana Razga is standing for election in the riding of Edmonton—Leduc. Born in London, England to Czechoslovakian parents, she immigrated to Canada in 1968, having a long career in human resources with the federal government. She is a volunteer for organizations including the Alberta Women’s Shelter, Big Sisters and Match International. She has previously run in campaigns three times provincially for the NDP, and once federally.

Wikinews contacted Hana Razga, to talk about the issues facing Canadians, and what they and their party would do to address them. Wikinews is in the process of contacting every candidate, in every riding across the country, no matter their political stripe. All interviews are conducted over e-mail, and interviews are published unedited, allowing candidates to impart their full message to our readers, uninterrupted.

Created in 2004, the riding consists of southwest Edmonton, the City of Leduc, the Town of Devon, and the surrounding area. Contesting Conservative incumbent James Rajotte are Razga, Valerie Kennedy (Green), and Donna Lynn Smith (Liberal).

For more information, visit the campaign’s official website, listed below.

Interview

Why are you running for political office, why at the federal level, why this party, and why in this riding?

I decided to get involved (again) because I have the time and enough energy to do it; because I believe it is imperative to have more women around the decision making table and because I hope to make a difference. The NDP is closest to my views and beliefs regarding the environment, social justice and gender equality

Previous to this campaign, have you been politically involved? How will you apply your previous work/volunteer/lifeexperience to serving your constituents?

I ran provincially for NDP in 1997 (Edmonton Manning), 2001 (Edmonton Manning), 2008 (Edmonton Whitemud), federally in 1997 (Edmonton East), as well as in municipal elections in 2007.
My lengthy career as a Human Resources Consultant for the federal government has provided her with skills in communicating, mediating, team building, negotiating, collaboration, all skills that will serve me well in my political career.

As you campaign around your riding, it’s likely that some issues are mentioned more often by voters, than other issues. What would you say are the three hottest topics this election, in your riding? What would you and your party do to address these issues?

The issue of leadership – When the Harper’s conservatives got elected and formed the government in 2006, they were supposed to be a different, more open and accountable government. Instead, they are and continue to cover up mistakes, avoid speaking truth and answer legitimate questions from the members of the opposition, constantly lay blame on members of the opposition or previous liberal regime, show little respect for diverse opinions or beliefs, mistreat others and abuse power.
They demotivate and offend others through cynicism and aggression. Instead being more open and accountable, Mr. Harper’s government is the most secretive and divisive that I ever remember. And people that I talk to on the doorstep are voicing their disappointment with this government. The are also disappointed in the government’s handling of the environmental file, war in Afghanistan, Omar Khadr file and all the other gaffes, either during their reign (Maxime Bernier, “in and out” scandal, Chuck Cadman controversy) or during the campaign (attack ads aired even before the campaign started, pooping puffin, Jerry Ritz etc), well you get the picture…..
Jack Layton and his team (of which I hope to be a part), have been the real opposition to Stephen Harper. And we believe it is time that we have a Prime Minister that puts the needs of the ordinary Canadians families first.
We will fight to protect jobs; reduce the growing income gap between the best-off and the rest of us; and unlike Stephen Harper, we will protect Canadian families from rip-offs and food scandals.
We will make sure health care is there when you need it, reducing wait times by hiring more doctors and nurses
And we will cut pollution with tough new laws and firm targets.
Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
Wikinews
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

Is there any misconceptions about you, your leader, or your party and platform?

Not so much about Jack Layton or myself, however people feel that we are the tax and spend party. This is actually not borne out. Most of our platform commitments (in any of the elections I ran) were all costed out, and most of the money for our initiatives would be coming from shifting the enormous tax cuts for profitable corporations that do not need it (given by the previous governments both liberal and conservative), to areas where the benefits would be to much larger Canadian population.

There are more ways than ever to get your message out, from the traditional campaign fliers and lawn signs, to new media like websites, Facebook, and YouTube. The tried-and-true routes get the message out to the masses much easier, but digital alternatives are much more measurable in how many are seeing or interacting with your campaign. What seems to be the most effective, from your experience?

  1. Direct voter contact through door knocking
  2. Combination of all of the above noted ways

Sources

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July 15, 2008

First ever video showing Guantanamo questioning released

First ever video showing Guantanamo questioning released

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Omar Khadr crying during an interrogation by Canadian officials.

For the first time a video showing the interrogation process at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp has been released. According to reports broadcast by Canadian media, the video shows Omar Khadr, one of the prisoners, being questioned by Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) officials. The video was filmed with a hidden camera through an air vent. It shows an interrogation from late February 2003 and it is being released now under a court order obtained by Khadr’s lawyers.

In the video, Khadr can be seen repeatedly crying and telling officials that “you don’t care about me.”

This image, provided by the Khadr family, shows Omar Khadr in 2001.

Dennis Edney, lawyer for Omar Khadr, responded by saying Dennis Edney “I hope Canadians will be outraged to see the callous and disgraceful treatment of a Canadian youth.” He also said that “Canadians should demand to know why they’ve been lied to.”

Omar claimed in the video that he was receiving poor medical care. When an official said “I’m not a doctor, but I think you’re getting good medical care,” he responded by saying “No I’m not. You’re not here… I lost my eyes. I lost my feet. Everything!” The official’s response to this was “No, you still have your eyes. Your feet are still at the end of your legs.” CBC News has reported that that Khadr’s comments about his eyes and feet are in reference to effects from the firefight in Afghanistan.

When the crying continued the questioner called for a break and said “Look, I want to take a few minutes. I want you to get yourself together. Relax a bit. Have a bite to eat and we’ll start again.”

Khadr, who is currently aged 21, faces life imprisonment for charges as serious as murder if he is found guilty. He also says that he has faced torture in Bagram air base, Afghanistan.

Prime minister Stephen Harper has repeatedly rejected calls for him to ask the United States for Khadr’s return to Canada.

“Mr. Khadr faces serious charges. There is a judicial process underway to determine Mr. Khadr’s fate. This should continue,” Kory Teneycke, Communication Director at the Office of the Prime Minister, told CBC News.

“We might also add in terms of background that the Government of Canada’s position is consistent with the previous government’s,” Teneycke further said. “This is a judicial process as opposed to a political one.”



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February 4, 2008

Tribunal considers role of Canadian minor in alleged war crimes

Tribunal considers role of Canadian minor in alleged war crimes

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Monday, February 4, 2008

Khadr, at the age of fourteen.

A military tribunal at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp is hearing arguments today over the legality of trying Canadian Omar Khadr for alleged war crimes, given his status as a minor at the time of the incident.

Khadr is charged with the murder of Sgt. Christopher Speer, in addition to attempted murder, conspiracy, providing material support for terrorism, and spying. The charges stem from a 2002 incident in which the 15-year old allegedly threw a grenade at U.S. troops after they directed an air-strike at the Afghan compound he was sharing with Mujahideen insurgents.

A number of groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have sent a letter to Secretary of Defence Robert Gates alleging that the military tribunal is “not equipped to meet juvenile justice standards” and that Khadr should either be tried before a civilian court or repatriated to Canada.

Edney (L) and Kuebler (R)
Image: Joshua Sherurcij.

Jennifer Daskal, senior counter-terrorism counsel at Human Rights Watch explained that the United States “should not make matters worse by prosecuting him before an unfair military tribunal.”

Khadr’s lawyer Dennis Edney challenged the attempts to label the 21-year old as a war criminal asking “…Why is he not being treated as a child soldier?” Lt Cdr Bill Kuebler, the American military commissions counsel in the case, agreed that the charges should be dismissed since the tribunal lacked the jurisdiction to prosecute minors.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper however, has said that his country will not intervene in the case to seek extradition of Khadr, re-affirming Canada’s status as the only Western country who has not demanded the release or extradition of their citizens held in Guantanamo.

Guantanamo Bay
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Camp Delta, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.jpg

Claiming to have been abused, threatened with rape and forced into painful positions since his arrival in Guantanamo in 2002 , Omar Khadr has been the subject of two psychiatric assessments that claimed he suffered from mental disorder as a result of his imprisonment, and was at risk of suicide.

Khadr was previously charged by the Guantanamo military commission in November 2005, before the judicial body was ruled “unlawful” by the Supreme Court. Last June, a military judge dismissed a second series of charges against Khadr because his 2004 Combatant Status Review Tribunal had classified as an “enemy combatant” rather than an “illegal enemy combatant”, meaning that he did not qualify under the Military Commissions Act. Three months later, however, the Court of Military Commission Review ruled that the Commission would be allowed to make its own determination of the legality of a combatant.

Related news

  • “U.S. military tribunals in Guantanamo Bay lack Congressional authorization, violate US law” — Wikinews, June 29, 2006

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January 19, 2008

Canada adds United States to list of countries that torture

Canada adds United States to list of countries that torture

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Canada
Other Canadian stories
  • 22 October 2014: One confirmed dead after shooting at National War Memorial in Ottawa
  • 3 July 2014: Indian space agency launches five foreign satellites
  • 29 June 2014: Canada wins 2014 Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championship
  • 28 June 2014: Germany and Canada into 2014 Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championships final
  • 27 June 2014: Germany, Netherlands, Canada and USA into Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Championships semi-finals
…More articles here
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An internal training manual developed by the Canadian foreign affairs department lists the United States as a country where foreigners risk torture and abuse, alongside countries such as Afghanistan, China, Iran, Israel, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Both Israel and the United States are officially allies of Canada.

The manual is a 93-page PowerPoint presentation by the Foreign Affairs Department for Canadian diplomats and was accidentally given to lawyers for the human rights group Amnesty International. It aims to teach diplomats how to identify and aid victims of torture, with a section on U.S. interrogation techniques including forced nudity, hooding, isolation, and sleep deprivation.

It was developed as part of a “torture awareness workshop” in response to the case of Maher Arar. Arar is a Canadian-Syrian citizen who was detained by the United States on suspected ties to terrorism, and deported to Syria where he was tortured. He was eventually returned to Canada, where he was awarded $11.5 million in compensation by the Canadian government.

Media attention in Canada was also drawn in recent years to the case of Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen who has been held at the United States military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for over five years since the age of 15. He is accused of tossing a grenade that killed one U.S. soldier and injured another in Afghanistan in 2002. Human rights groups have long demanded that Canada pressure the United States into returning Khadr to Canada.

The leak was protested by the United States ambassador. “We find it to be offensive for us to be on the same list with countries like Iran and China. Quite frankly it’s absurd,” U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins to Canada said. “For us to be on a list like that is just ridiculous.”

Alex Neve, Secretary-general of Amnesty International, said the organization had clear evidence of abuse in US and Israeli jails. “It’s therefore reassuring and refreshing to see that … foreign policy considerations didn’t trump the human rights concern and keep them off the list.”

Canadian officials disclaimed its significance. “The document is a training manual. It is not a policy document or a statement of policy. As such it does not convey the government’s views or positions,” said Marina Wilson, spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier said the manual “contains a list that wrongly includes some of our closest allies”, and that he “regret[s] the embarrassment caused by the public disclosure of the manual used in the department’s torture awareness training”.

Related news

  • “Murat Kurnaz describes systematic torture in Guantanamo” — Wikinews, November 15, 2006
  • “U.S. military tribunal law faces first court challenge” — Wikinews, November 3, 2006
  • “Canadian “terror” suspect Arar cleared after one year of torture” — Wikinews, September 19, 2006
  • “Former chaplain at Guantanamo tells about abuse and underage prisoners” — Wikinews, May 30, 2006
  • “UN calls for Guantanamo shutdown” — Wikinews, February 16, 2006
  • “New photos of Abu Ghraib prison abuse” — Wikinews, February 15, 2006

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September 20, 2007

Supporters of Canadian youth held in Guantanamo gather, demand action

Supporters of Canadian youth held in Guantanamo gather, demand action

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Omar Khadr

It was an awkward birthday gathering; as the family and supporters of Omar Khadr gathered in Toronto to try and explain why the Canadian youth was still being held at Guantanamo Bay.

Khadr, who turned 21 on Wednesday, has become a rallying point for groups who say the Canadian government isn’t doing enough to ensure he receives a fair trial. “Neither Liberals nor Conservatives have done anything,” railed Khadr’s defence attorney Dennis Edney, who is flying down to meet with his client on Monday.

“Comparatively, Canada is behind the curve,” chastised Human Rights Watch spokesmen Nehal Bhuta, pointing out that Khadr has received “almost no support from his government” and therefore remains the only Western citizen still held in the detainment camp after nearly six years. HRW colleague and attorney Jennifer Daskal repeated the condemnation, calling on Canada to “step up, put pressure on the United States government.”

“He is a victim of circumstance, not ‘the worst of the worst'” explained Daskal, who was echoed by U.S. military counsel Lt. Cmdr. Bill Kuebler “in other circumstances, we would have called him a child soldier.”

Defence attorney Dennis Edney (L) and Lt. Cmdr. Bill Kuebler (R)
Image: Joshua Sherurcij.

Alleged to have thrown a grenade that killed an American soldier, Khadr was only 15 years old at the time of the firefight that left him with three bulletholes in his chest. His sister Zaynab pressed Kuebler for answers, demanding to know if “the right to defend onself [is] exclusive to the US Army, because by all reports, that what Omar was doing”.

Perhaps International Law professor Darryl Robinson phrased the conundrum most succinctly; “When we shoot at you, that’s just war. When you shoot at us, it’s a crime.”

Guantanamo Bay
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Camp Delta, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.jpg

Quoting Richard Baxter of the Harvard Law School, Robinson challenged the Bush administration’s claims of operating outside of international law, stating that “the first step in sidestepping humanitarian law, is denying its applicability.” He further amused listeners by expanding on the catch-22 “you don’t fall under the Third Geneva Convention because you’re not a combatant, you’re a criminal – and you don’t fall under the Fourth Geneva Convention because you’re not a criminal, you’re a combatant…so I guess there are no rules”.

Referencing the fact that even a legal acquittal could still leave Khadr in Guantanamo indefinitely, Bhuta summarised his continued detention as “sadly, something of an icon of everything that’s gone wrong in the U.S. War on Terror.”



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October 13, 2006

Gag order imposed on Guantanamo whistleblower

Gag order imposed on Guantanamo whistleblower

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Friday, October 13, 2006

On Friday October 13, Colonel Carol Joyce, the Marines’ chief defense counsel, imposed a gag order on Lieutenant Colonel Colby Vokey, the lead military counsel for Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr and Sgt. Heather Cerveny, the team’s paralegal.

On her first visit to Guantanamo, Cerveny was approached by off-duty guards who bragged to her of how they abused detainees. They told of arbitrarily seizing detainee’s toiletries and other belongings, in order to provoke their emotions so they would have a justification for using force against them. They told of arbitrary beatings. One guard bragged about banging a detainee’s face against the door of his cell without any justification.

On October 6 2006 Cerveny swore an affidavit describing the hour-long conversation she had with the off-duty guards in the Guantanamo military club, prompting calls for an inquiry. In an interview on October 12, Cerveny said, “It was a general consensus that I (detected) that as a group this is something they did. That this was OK at Guantanamo, that this is how the detainees get treated,”

In a statement Colonel Joyce explained she had imposed the gag order pending a review of the facts, “This is necessary to ensure all actions of counsel are in compliance with regulations establishing professional standards for military attorneys,”

According to Muneer Ahmad, Khadr’s civilian lawyer, the gag order imposes a dilemma for the military members of Khadr’s defense team. He said Vokey wasn’t only barred from talking about Cerveny’s affidavit, he was barred from talking about any aspect of the military commissions. Ahmad said Vokey previously had permission to speak with the media.

According to the San Diego Union Tribune Ahmad said the gag order had put Vokey in a dilemma: “It’s in Omar’s interests for the truth about abuses of detainees at Guantanamo, including him, to get out in the open. But Colby (Vokey) is being prevented from doing that part of his job … and thereby representing Omar’s interests, I think he is very concerned about his ability to perform his job as a lawyer,”

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January 22, 2006

Canadian teen faces disputed US military tribunal

Canadian teen faces disputed US military tribunal

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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Omar Ahmed Khadr

19-year-old Canadian citizen Omar Ahmed Khadr attended a pre-trial hearing on Wednesday, January 11, in front of a military tribunal at the U.S. naval base in Guantánamo Bay in his case involving charges of murder, attempted murder and aiding the enemy.

Khadr was 15 when on July 27, 2002, following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, he was present in a compound near Khost which was surrounded by US soldiers. After a fierce firefight and U.S. bombings of the compound, U.S. special operations forces Sgt. Christopher Speer, who has training as a medic, led a group of US soldiers searching the compound in the belief that everybody inside had been killed. According to U.S. army reports, Omar Khadr, who was wounded by the bombings and the only survivor in the compound, fired his pistol and threw a grenade which killed Christopher Speer and wounded three others. In response, Khadr was engaged by U.S. forces and shot three times, which left him nearly blind in one eye.

While still 15 years old, Khadr was transferred to the U.S. detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, where he was kept together with adult detainees, separate from other children who received better treatment and some formal education. Now Khadr is 19 and is facing the tribunal operated exclusively by the US military.

The tribunal is referred to by different media organizations as a “war crimes court”, a “military commission” or a “military tribunal”. Its legality is presently under dispute. The USA has not ratified the international treaty creating the International Criminal Court, so the nature of the tribunal under international law is unclear. The Miami Herald reports that “military defense lawyers and legal observers [condemn] the so-called military commissions as stacked against the defendants”, but that the chief Pentagon prosecutor, Air Force Col. Morris “Moe” Davis defended the tribunal, stating that the purpose of the tribunals is to provide a fair trial while addressing an enemy whose actions had not been anticipated under the Geneva Conventions. “We have nothing to be ashamed of, and I’m proud of everybody involved in the process,” he said.

The Supreme Court of the US is expected to decide on the constitutionality of this type of military tribunal in the next few months, with oral arguments in March, to consider charges that the “tribunals” violate US obligations under the Geneva Conventions.

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Omar Khadr

Khadr has requested an upgrade to his legal team. The military defense lawyer appointed to him by the tribunal is a 31-year-old army captain, who has never before handled a trial defense and just recently returned from his tour of duty in Iraq.

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