Today, the ACLU, Human Rights Watch and the Juvenile Law Center sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Defense Secretary Robert Gates calling on them to drop the military commissions case against Omar Khadr and either send him home to Canada, or send his case to U.S. federal criminal court. Khadr, whose case we've documented at length, is accused of throwing a grenade that resulted in the death of Army medic Christopher Speer during a firefight in Afghanistan in 2002. He was 15 years old.
If nothing is done, Khadr's pretrial hearings will resume in April; his trial is scheduled for July. His will be the first trial during the Obama administration under the discredited military commissions system. He will also become the first person in decades to be tried by any western nation for war crimes allegedly committed as a child.
Yet, there's reason for hope. On Wednesday, Newsweek reported that a deal may be in the works to repatriate Khadr back to Canada. While both Canadian and U.S. officials deny this, Khadr's attorney told Newsweek:
[…]Khadr's Washington-based defense lawyer, Barry Coburn, says he trusts recent Canadian media reports of a possible U.S. move to send Khadr home, such as a story circulated by the Canwest News Service. "I believe this report has substance to it […] I believe there is sensitivity in the U.S. government about not going through with this trial," he added, although he declined to say just who in the administration might be considering such a plan.
Khadr has now spent a third of his life at Gitmo, where he's been subjected to sleep deprivation, stress positions, threats of rape, and menaced by dogs. If we can't give him justice in the U.S. federal courts, where his case belongs, we must send him home.