Faced With Prospect Of Military Commission, Alleged Child Soldier Omar Khadr Accepts Plea Deal

October 25, 2010 3:18 pm

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Military Commissions Will Never Produce Outcomes We Can Trust, Says ACLU

CONTACT: Rachel Myers, (212) 549-2689 or 2666; media@aclu.org

NEW YORK – Guantánamo detainee Omar Khadr has avoided a military commissions trial by pleading guilty to crimes committed when he was 15 years old. The American Civil Liberties Union, which is at Guantánamo to observe the trial that was slated to start today, said the military commissions are unable to deliver reliable justice and should be shut down for good.

Khadr, a Canadian citizen, has been in U.S. custody since 2002 for war crimes allegedly committed when he was 15. The United States is the first nation since WWII to prosecute an alleged child soldier for war crimes. Khadr’s plea agreement brings the total number of convictions in the military commissions to five, including three plea agreements. In contrast, there have been more than 400 successful terrorism trials in federal courts since 9/11.

The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU:

“Khadr’s plea deal means that the United States will be spared the embarrassment of trying a child soldier in a tribunal that most of the world sees as illegitimate. Khadr’s case, however, is emblematic of a set of larger problems with the military commissions that won’t be resolved by a plea deal. These tribunals are simply incapable of providing fair trials, and they ought to be shut down altogether. Individuals accused of terrorism-related crimes should be prosecuted in federal courts. Those courts have shown over and over again that they are capable of delivering results that are both legitimate and seen as legitimate.”

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