- Canada - Guantanamo - justice - prisons - terrorism
AFP - A Canadian federal court on Thursday ordered the government to demand that the United States send home as soon as possible a young Canadian held in the US military jail in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Omar Khadr was arrested in Afghanistan in July 2002 when he was 15 years old for allegedly throwing a grenade that killed a US soldier, which he denies.
He has been imprisoned at the US "war on terror" prison camp since October 2002 awaiting trial on charges of murder, conspiracy and support of terrorism.
To date, the Canadian government has refused to request his repatriation, despite pressure from opposition MPs, rights groups and others.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Thursday his administration may appeal the ruling. "We'll be looking at the decision very carefully and obviously considering an appeal," he said in the House of Commons.
In his decision, Judge James O'Reilly agreed with Khadr's lawyers that the government's steadfast refusal to ask for his repatriation infringed on Khadr's constitutional rights and "a principle of fundamental justice."
He said Ottawa has a "duty to protect persons in Mr. Khadr’s circumstances by taking steps to ensure that their fundamental rights, recognized in widely-accepted international instruments such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, are respected."
Further, the judge said: "To mitigate the effect of that violation, Canada must present a request to the United States for Mr. Khadr’s repatriation to Canada as soon as practicable."
In his ruling, the judge considered that Khadr was not given special status as a minor by US authorities, was isolated at the prison and subjected to sleep deprivation.
As well, he noted that Canadian officials had interrogated Khadr at the prison and shared information gleaned from him with US authorities.