Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Omar Khadr case a travesty of justice - child soldier need help, not more harm but Conservatives using him for political gain

Canada's Omar Khadr Is No 'War Criminal' - he is a child soldier and need rehabilitation, not more punishment

Omar Khadr breaks down during Guantanamo interrogation

Omar Khadr

He's a former child soldier and needs rehabilitation, not further punishment.

Bill Tieleman’s 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday October 2, 2012

By Bill Tieleman

"Omar Khadr is a Canadian citizen and a child soldier whose rights have been summarily denied, despite international law."
- Dr. Samantha Nutt, War Child Canada
Omar Khadr has finally returned from the notorious Guantanamo Bay U.S. prison to Canada, where he needs to be rehabilitated as a former child soldier, not wrongly be called a "war criminal" and further punished.
This travesty of justice is the shameful responsibility of both Canadian and American governments, who used Khadr's tragic case for crass political purposes instead of treating him like other child soldiers around the world.
And yet despite being rightfully criticized by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, War Child Canada and other human rights organizations over this case, the Conservative government is still intent on making Khadr's miserable life even worse.
Toronto-born Khadr needs maximum rehabilitation, not maximum-security incarceration in Ontario's Millhaven prison.
So here are the facts, rather than ongoing Tory spin.
Khadr was a 15-year-old Canadian citizen pressed into the role of child soldier in Afghanistan by his father, al-Qaeda member Ahmed Said Khadr, to fight U.S., British Canadian and other nations' troops in Afghanistan after the Taliban were deposed in 2001.
Khadr was severely wounded and captured in a July 2002 firefight with U.S. troops, and held responsible for the death of U.S. Army Sgt. Christopher Speer.
Conservative Public Safety Minister Vic Toews described Khadr Saturday as a "known supporter of the al-Qaeda terrorist network and a convicted terrorist."
Regardless of Khadr's actions in battle, he meets all criteria to be recognized as a child soldier -- not a willing combatant or "terrorist."
Read the law
As Amnesty International states: "International law prohibits the participation in armed conflict of children aged under 18."
Both Canada and the United States have signed and ratified the "Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in armed conflict" which was adopted by the United Nations in 2000 and which prohibits children under the age of 18 from being used in hostilities for any purpose.
But while Khadr's case is a textbook example of a child soldier, both Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper and before that former Liberal prime ministers Paul Martin and Jean Chretien refused to meet our international obligations.
Amnesty's Canadian secretary-general Alex Neve doesn't mince words about the role of the Canadian government.
"Canada's role has been a disgrace. Three prime ministers, representing two different political parties and presiding over five different governments, could have taken action," Neve wrote in July.
Retired Canadian general Romeo Dallaire, former commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda, also denounced Khadr's treatment in prison in Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba:
"Despite being a juvenile, Khadr was incarcerated with adult inmates and subjected to unlawful interrogation techniques that created a serious risk of physical and psychological harm," Dallaire co-wrote in a 2010 article with Ishmael Beah, a UNICEF representative from Sierra Leone and himself a rehabilitated former child soldier.
"It was under these conditions, and with no legal representation, that his self-incriminatory confessions were elicited and will be used as evidence in his Guantanamo Bay trial," they said.
"In the past eight years of detention, he has faced cruel and inhumane treatment, including the threat of rape, physical and psychological abuse, possibly torture, and survived over three years of solitary confinement," Dallaire and Beah noted.
And an Amnesty report to the United Nations last month outlined Canada's sad role.
"Canadian courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada, have ruled that Canadian officials were complicit in the violation of Omar Khadr's rights by virtue of a number of interrogation sessions he was subjected to by Canadian officials at Guantánamo Bay in circumstances where the ongoing violation of his rights there were allegedly apparent," the report stated.
Closing time
Harper's government did everything it could to abandon Khadr in Guantanamo, accepting his repatriation to Canada only under U.S. pressure.
"Obviously the Americans are closing down the prison and wanted to send him back," Foreign Minister John Baird said Sunday on CTV. "He's a Canadian citizen, he has the right to come back. We didn't have much of a choice... and he's back."
Khadr's lawyer John Norris says his client is eligible for parole as soon as summer of 2013 and that Canadians should not be worried about his release.
"We're at a loss to understand why the government continues to demonize Omar and to stoke public opinion against him," said Norris.
That's easy -- demonizing appeals to some Conservative voters.
Tweeting hypocrisy
Ironically, while successive governments abandoned Khadr, Canadian politicians have been keen to be seen opposing the use of child soldiers.
When the "Kony 2012" video documenting the savage use of child soldiers in Uganda by Joseph Kony's Lord’s Resistance Army when viral, eventually attracting over 92 million views on YouTube, Baird was quick to hit Twitter with his support.
"I am deeply troubled by the LRA's systematic abduction of children to wage its campaign of terror. #stopkony," Baird tweeted in March of this year.
It appears that Baird's opposition to the use of child soldiers stops where his ministerial responsibility starts -- with Omar Khadr.
But the world has recognized that all child soldiers are the pawns of adults, evilly used to carry out terrible, often unthinkable atrocities that scar them forever.
Khadr may or may not still harbour views that are abhorrent to Canadians -- and having been confined and abused in Guantanamo prison would likely make anyone twisted.
But Canada's moral and legal obligation is to help Khadr leave his child soldier past behind and do its best to let this troubled young man have a chance to lead a peaceful, productive life.
Even war-torn countries in Africa have shown that child soldiers can be rehabilitated to lead normal lives. Why should Canada not be able do the same?



DPL said...

Good review of the facts Bill. The Conservative government is doing all they can to frame him as a really bad person when even the US guards stated that he was a model prisoner. Imagine being under twenty and shackled and in solitary confinement, and subjected to whatever the authorities wished to do to him. The Harper government has been shameful in his treatment.There is considerable doubt that he threw a grenade as he was wounded at under a bunch or rubble.

Anonymous said...

Disagree. This guy killed in war, no question. So why be wimpy? What if it was your son he killed? There's no "framing" as it was proven he did in fact kill the U.S. soldier.

and imagine having to hear a knock on the door by a U.S. Army representative and be told your son isn't coming home because he got killed by some kid soldier. You then look in your son's room which looks the same as it did when he was shipped out.

If Amenesty International is that concerned about child soldiers being recruited by al'Quaida, why don't they round up key al' Quaida persons and haul them to the International Courts?

The same can be said to the groups in Africa that use kid soldiers in their own armies.

So we should pamper and coddle this guy? Not for torture or anything, but let's ensure that justice prevails. Otherwise it sets a series of steps in place that eventually waters down the justice system because too many on the left think of the criminal and not the victims.

This guy and his supporters should tough it out and let his sentence run its course. Then at the close of it we can discuss rehab for him, to make him a contributor to society.

Sorry Bill, this is not one of your better columns. This one didn't even slide to the blue line let alone score a goal.

Anonymous said...

anon 10:59 is ignoring the fact that this country signed a pact concerning child soldiers. It was at a closed military tribunal that was being used, not a normal court of law. Many legal experts have stated that those tribunals were looking for the results they wanted. It was a plea bargain to get out of there that he pled guilty to a number of things. Every other westerner help at Gitmo was returned to their own country years ago. Our governments did their best to keep him out of the country, even after the Supreme Court of Canada told them they were abusing his rights. Now anon and I may not agree on much but the Supreme Court of Canada has more credibility than any of us. as for charging a person for murder during a fire fight, well no American got charged for killing the people at that event. And the murder case was really not that conclusive as even one US guy there said Kader didn't throw anything. The case might not have survived in a civil court. I sure hope anon never gets into a position where he would need the Canadian court system and find himself in a military tribunal.

Anonymous said...

This is too good not to pass along, and this seems like an appropriate place.

Arguing with a Conservative. Canadian version.

Liberal: Canada has 10 provinces.

Conservative: No, it doesn’t.

Liberal: Yes, it does. Canada has 10 provinces.

Conservative: What about Nunavut? What about that Nunavut, huh? Or the Yukon?

Liberal: Those are territories, not provinces. Canada has 10 provinces.

Conservative: Oh, so you’re saying those don’t count?

Read the rest HERE

Anonymous said...

Would it not be the Taliban or whom ever his dad was with that broke the rules regarding child soldiers? Omar at 14 would have been considered a man in his culture or cult.

While I also do not believe the grenade story but I do believe the video of omar laughing while he assembled IED's that would have killed soldiers and Afghan children indiscriminately so in this he is either a terrorist or he was a mercenary fighter because he was a Canadian citizen who went to another country to fight against the US or NATO ordered troops.20 years is an adequate period and if he is still of good behavior after this than parole is in order.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 7:52 Oct 3.

Not bad. I'e come across NDPers who couldn't read a map properly, unless it was of their own MLAs riding.

But here's one for you:

You have two cows..

Federal Liberals: You have two cows. The Liberal Government of PM Justin Trudeau takes one and gives it to your neighbor.

NDP: You have two cows. You give them to the NDP Government, and the Government then gives you some milk from the NDP owned Dairy Co-Operative.

Conservative: You have two cows. The Conservative Government provides the means of a very low interest farm loan. You get one and use it to sell one cow and buy a bull and repay the loan back with interest in a year.

Anonymous said...

Indeed it was the Taliban and/or his dad that broke the rules. So that's the problem. Where is the justice of having Kadr sent in the first place? Should his dad and those involved be brought to justice, or is it just these left wing advocacy groups just let these sad tales go on and on and all they do is finger point without coming up with any tanglible means to fix the problem?

One thing to point a problem. Quite another to fix it.

Kadr will be eligible for parole next year so it is not a case of him being in a federal prison making gravel for the rest of his life.

Bill Tieleman said...

Anon 4:23 p.m. - Omar Khadr's father was killed in a Pakistani military in October 2003 and his brother paralyzed in the same attack.

If you have ideas how Canada can stop any citizen from taking their children to a foreign country and pushing them into military operations - making them child soldiers - let us know.

Child soldiers are an international problem and must be dealt with as such - all countries have a responsibility to end this practice.

Regardless of whether its Omar Khadr or any other child soldier, international law is clear.

Anonymous said...

Well Bill, the first thing is to make the relatives responsible. That's where it started.

The relatives should take responsibility, but this is incredibily lacking.

Perhaps someone in the NDP will agree and set a resolution at the next national convention to set it as policy.

You might be the beter person given your longevity in the NDP.

The only way this is going to stop in Canada is to make the relatives or parents responsible.

Not too sympathetic to Khadr's father nor his brother in this instance. They decided to get into the conflict and the basic thing in conflicts such as what is happening in Pakistan and Afghanistan is that people are simply going to get injured or killed. That's a fact and nothing is going to change it, unless Pakistan realizes it can be a solid robust country if it would just let go of the insidieous infighting.

Father and brother could have just kept to being in Canada, and build on what they wanted in the first place, being citizens and building
a life that is much better than the one they left in their home country.

DPL said...

Besides making life miserable for the guy, this Federal government is showing their ignorance of International Law, Ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada. Many of their decisions are just stupid and sadly some folks think the same way. The military inquiry that ran his case was looking to find him guilty and put him away for many years.

Anonymous said...

He was the one with the grenade in his hand and was making explosive devices.

So why not go after his Canadian relatives and charge them with child endangerment? End the stupidity in Canada by making it a crime to send kids back to their homeland like that, or is that too demeaning for the left to understand?

The sod is lucky he didn't get potted off before he made it to his 17th birthday.

Besides he will be eligible for parole next year if he keeps to being a good boy and not be supportive of al'Quaida and the Taliban.

I wouldn't get too deep into the military inquiry was looking to find him guilty there DPL.

There's many instances of the left finding people "guilty of crimes" even before any such offences actually exists in law.

One only has to review the many times people have referred to their not so well liked politician being "guility of treason" or "guilty of [name of crime here].

Forget it DPL, your statement of "the military inquiry that ran his case was looking to find him guilty" is just your opinion for what little it is worth on the open market.

DPL said...

Anon must be a very informed person if his knowledge exceeds so many people familiar with the case. The kid was interrogated with no lawyer to defend him for starters. And many experts have stated that a civilian court would have different results. And of course as a child soldier he shouldn't have been tried. Even at court Martial a person has the right to a lawyer, of his choice, before being questioned. Some of the interrogation methods at Big Git would not be allowed anywhere else, which was why the centre was started in the first place by Bush who figured that place separated the persons from Federal laws. But it appears that in anons view, the guy was lucky to survive in that place. Sure hope no friends of anon ever run afoul of the US military. and yes my opinion may not be worth much on the open market but at least is informed. Has anon ever attended even a military court martial or investigation? Lots of us did and some of the stuff opens ones eyes rather quickly. The plea bargain was used to get him to say he killed the guy, as a means to get out of that hellhole

Anonymous said...

There was also torture in that prison camp.

Harper was found guilty of, stonewalling and obstructing that investigation. ICC's Chief Prosecutor left it up the the RCMP, to follow up on Harper's war crimes and crimes against humanity. Of course, they didn't bother, as usual. Harper had prorogued Parliament, to avoid the charges against him.

After WW11, Germans were permitted to come to Canada. Some very high profile Nazi's, were permitted to work at NASA. They did no prison time what-so-ever.

Chinese people were permitted in Canada, that are from their triad. We permit country's that believe in honor killings, into Canada.

I agree, why should this young guy be punished anymore, than he already has been? He can be on parole and monitored for a time.

If it comes to any suspicious activity, he and his entire family, can be deported. Country's allow these people to come here to live. We allow the Pakistani people into this country. Pakistan has shown treachery, harboring Bin Laden. They also train the terrorists and the rebels.

What do we do? Send all of the Arab's back to their own country's? Deport all of the Iranian people. Tell the Pakistani people to go home? Afghanistan is beheading children again.

I can only hope this young fellow is safe, within his own family. They are the ones, who bear watching. Why were they permitted to, come to Canada anyway? I would take a chance on Omar, before I would take a chance on his parents.

Anonymous said...

DPL is a bit off track. There were lawyers present at the Gitmo hearing. Both U.S. initially and a
Canadian lawyer was brought in (at taxpayer expense).

Wonder if DPL would spend better time on a solution that would actually work, such as writing a resolution to the federal NDP which would at least be a tangible start rather than continually whining about a comment that he doesn't like.

I wonder what qualifer DPL has when he stated attending a court marital? Was this Canadian or U.S. since the definitive processs is a bit different.

No one is advocating wholesale return of Arabs (which can be a person from any one of Arabic speaking countries including Israel), but his parents and other relatives that caused this happen should individually be held responsible.

But alas one supposes DPL is the resident expert.

yet again.

If Anon 2.39 October 6 wishes to take a chance on Omar, that is his choice, but then so would I after he has demonstrated a desire to be a citizen of Canada and not an explosive or grenade carrier for al'Quaida or the Tailban.

Of course the decision will be his to make. Whether he succeeds in bringing a positive contribution to Canada is totally up to him when he is released on parole.

But long standing people of the NDP like DPL if they view this as an issue at heart should stop whining and actually do something at the party level to fix the problem. Set a policy that the NDP can deliver to the people.

Running around with orange hair or writing to an NDP blog is not going to change anything,

DPL said...

Anon 659 is missing or misinterpreting something I said. Of course the guy had a lawyer at the tribunal, nobody said he didn't. He did not have one when being questioned over a period of time. That's were opinions are formed. In a non military court, when in front of a non military judge, the case would have been thrown and yes, I have been at court marshalls,as a witness and even spent time as part of our training in escape and evasion, going through the methods used to get results . Do a hour or two at even simulated torture and you would sell out your family to have them stop.

Anon has made some assumptions and decided I'm a NDP person. Can't figure why he would think that, as I spent most of my adult life in the military where being a NDP supporter was frowned upon.
And as I looked back over the comments I noticed one of my comments were ignored by Anon.I had accidentally used anon on Oct 03 6:58 . Unlike anon I make a habit of identifying myself by my initials. But this back and forth is getting boring. He or she has opinions different than many of us.

The guy who runs this blog seems to attract a lot of organizations across the political spectrum who have him speak at their events. A lot of his stuff appears in The Tyee , the CBC interviews him quite a lot and is read by a lot of folks.Just because we read his blog doesn't make us a believer of all things NDP.

Bill Tieleman said...

Anon 2:39 p.m. - your schtick is getting tiresome. Who gives a rat's posterior whether this is an "NDP" blog or what NDP supporters should do or not do?

DPL is always welcome to comment here because their comments are informed and on topic.

You, on the other hand, are consistently coming back to the same tired position.

My question is: why bother? What's the attraction here?

Feel free to move on to somewhere more worthy of your attention - your comments won't be missed if so.

Anonymous said...

All this talk about khha being a child soldier is starting to get tiring. He was a young indoctrinated Islamic practitioner. Taught to follow the quran through lies deceit and his misfortune of being born into a west hating family that follows and believes a cave dweller mentality.
That said he is also considered an adult by the very culture that would gladly use him as a suicide bomber even at a younger age.At 14 he was of legal age to marry.

Anonymous said...

Bill read the above post (7 October 2012. It gives a prespective.

In regards to Anon 6:59, a blog such as yours should have contrary opinions, that's gist of debate. A pro and con, if it is repetitive so what? DPL's repetitious statements are also getting tiring. If he doesn't like the contrary opinions, he too is free to move on.

The attraction for many is simply prespective. The blog is getting to be one sided.

Widen out the prespective and let's continue to have full open debates without the exclusion of contrary opinions (i.e. The Left only).

Otherwise this blog will become the same as that within the Tyee. Dominated by people on one side of the political spectrum.

DPL has drifted off topic, but are usally the same orientation in terms of political ideaology. He's not in the military now, but his political orientation - if it actually matters, is easily found to be left of centre, just as others here are right of centre.

Anonymous said...

Debate is welcome.

False rhetoric spouted from a mouth that can derisively accuse a person of being in a cult because of their faith and in the same breath hold a child responsible for all the actions that they perform in services of what they perceive to be a cult...

Is not debate - its just hatred.

Anonymous said...

I stopped reading most of your posts because of the anons consistent contrary positions posted here. This is after all a progressive blog most of the time. There are other blogs out there the poster might find more interesting. I have learned nothing interesting from this poster.