Canada's taking its fight against having to repatriate one of its citizens from Guantanamo all the way to the Supreme Court. But rejecting the former child soldier leaves the country open to charges of not in my backyard, merci
Canada is skating on really thin ice in terms of its public position as an arbiter of the rule of law, due process, the rights of its citizens and, in this case, the rights of children. Why such harsh words for the usually boring and beautiful nation? Well it all has to do with the case of a Canadian citizen who has been rotting in
The citizen is Omar Khadr who at the time of his arrest was 15 and in
The US has in other cases given sanctuary to child soldiers–Charles Opiro, who was turned into a killer by his Ugandan captors, gives lectures to kids in American schools; Canada has recently given a stay of deportation to escaped Burmese former child soldier Nay Myo Hein, and perhaps the ultimate success was Emmanuel Jal who has toured widely as a successful rapper having escaped his unspeakable acts having been forced to use an AK47 in the Sudan since he was six years old.
Why then is Khadr different and why, pray tell, is the Canadian Government fighting its own courts tooth and nail and appealing judicial orders to repatriate Khadr? In the ultimate not-in-my-backyard, this case is going all the way to
In a nutshell,
The case has, naturally enough, many complicating factors, including allegations of a past connection between Khadr’s family and Osama bin Laden. Wouldn’t that mean that the young Omar should have been rescued from influence, not kept in solitary confinement and tortured to admit to a crime there are serious doubts about? Apparently not.
A young fellow detainee who admitted throwing a grenade–once he was threatened with his own death and that of his family–has since been released. It is already on record that Khadr was only possibly responsible for the grenade, as an older person who was with him was still alive at the time of his arrest.
Harper seems obsessed with letting the
Refusing a kid treatment for his injuries, keeping him in solitary for years, placing him under such duress as to be akin to torture, and now keeping him chained to the floor of a cage–albeit in contact with other prisoners–amounts to the sort of treatment that junks anything that’s come out of Gitmo. Sure, a cursory study of war forces acknowledgement that 15-year-olds are capable of killing. That is not in dispute but nor is it the point.
Harper is okay about sending Canadian troops to fight for the current corrupt administration in
Denied legal and human rights, this Canadian is now 22. He’s unlikely to cry as easily as he did when seen on the video footage of his early days in captivity. Actually he’s probably really angry about his fate and about how he’s been treated by
Having adopted a stubborn and bloody-minded refusal to acquiesce to the courts, Harper has thumbed his nose at the serious and reasoned judicial analysis that there is not enough evidence to charge Khadr with any crime, let alone convict him now or in the future. What does Harper expect to happen now?
When communities reject convicted pedophiles from taking up residence in their child-filled streets, their acts may be objectionable but at least their targets have been convicted of a crime.
Omar Khadr has been convicted of nothing. He was 15 when arrested, allegedly fighting. His fight was against an occupying force. He has not been formally charged, let alone put on trial or convicted.
In the meantime he risks making a mockery of
It will serve Harper right if come November the Supreme Court proves the cul-de-sac on the battle to keep Khadr out of sight, and Harper is forced to acknowledge, in the words of his chief rival Michael Ignatieff, that a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian. Sort of like the law is the law is the law, n'est-ce pas?