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GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba – The American Civil Liberties Union is at Guantánamo monitoring the military commission hearings of Omar Khadr scheduled for today. If his case moves forward, Khadr will be the first child soldier in American history to be prosecuted for alleged war crimes.
Jennifer Turner of the ACLU Human Rights Program will be observing today's proceedings.
Now 22, Khadr was 15 when he was captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan for allegedly throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier. In a signed, nine-page affidavit, Khadr charged that he was repeatedly threatened with rape during interrogations while held both in Afghanistan and at Guantánamo Bay. Khadr's trial has raised serious concerns about its fairness, including the use of testimony his attorneys say was coerced through torture.
Tainted by political interference, the Guantánamo military commission proceedings have been marred by ethical and legal problems from day one. Among other things, the proceedings allow the admission of secret evidence, hearsay and evidence obtained through torture. The Bush administration has admitted that at least three detainees in its custody have been subjected to waterboarding.
The ACLU has been present as an independent observer at nearly every commission hearing since 2004 and continues to see no indication that the proceedings are fair, impartial or in accordance with constitutional principles.
An ACLU video, along with a petition calling on President-elect Obama to shut down Guantánamo and the military commissions, is online at: closegitmo.com