Today the Canadian Supreme Court found that Guantánamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr’s rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights were violated by the Canadian officials who interrogated him during his detention in U.S. custody. The court stopped short of ordering the Canadian government to repatriate Khadr, which is unfortunate, because that’s exactly what we think should happen next.
Jamil Dakwar, Director of the ACLU’s Human Rights Program, has observed some of Khadr’s military commission proceedings at Guantánamo. He said in a statement today:
This decision underscores the need for the U.S. to reverse its decision to prosecute Omar Khadr before an illegal military commission. As a teenager, Omar Khadr was subjected to abusive interrogations and sleep deprivation by U.S. officials without access to court or counsel, and with no regard for his status as a juvenile. It is encouraging that the Canadian justice system has found that this is no way to treat youth in detention, and recognized that Omar Khadr’s rights continue to be violated.
We should also point out that as the U.S. continues to hold Khadr, it continues to ignore its obligations under the U.N. Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, which we ratified in 2002. The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child has criticized U.S. noncompliance with the optional protocol with respect to this country’s detention and treatment of juveniles in U.S. military custody abroad. (Khadr was only 15 when he was captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2002.)
Last November, we sent Secretary of Defense Robert Gates a letter asking for updated information on juveniles in U.S. military custody in Iraq and Afghanistan. We’re still waiting for a response.
Khadr has spent a third of his life in Guantánamo. It’s time to send him home.