A team of students in the uOttawa Faculty of Law Foreign Policy Practicum has submitted a report to the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights summarizing the publicly available facts in the Omar Khadr case and contesting recent Canadian government claims that Khadr could not be tried in Canada for his alleged acts. This report, Repatriation of Omar Khadr to be Tried under Canadian Law: An Overview of the Case Against Omar Khadr and the Prospect of Canadian Criminal Jurisdiction, is linked to this blog.
Omar Khadr is the only Canadian - and indeed the only Western - citizen held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay naval base. He is also one of the first persons against whom criminal proceedings have been brought under the controversial U.S. military commissions system. (Australian David Hicks was technically the first, though he reached a plea bargain agreement and thereby avoided the trial procedure). Omar was captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan after a fire-fight in which he is said to have participated. He was 15 at the time.
While other U.S. allies have demanded and secured the release of their nationals from Guantanamo, often subsequently conducting their own criminal investigations or proceedings against former detainees, the Government of Canada’s efforts on Khadr’s behalf have been desultory in comparison. In reaction to calls for the repatriation of Omar from human rights and other groups, the government has responded that the U.S. military commission process should take its course. More recently the government has suggested that, if repatriated, Khadr could not be charged for the offences he is said to have committed prior and during the Afghan firefight.
The uOttawa Foreign Policy Practicum report suggests that he could be tried in Canada; that is, in a proceeding before a fair and impartial tribunal applying internationally-accepted fair trial rules and taking proper account of his age at the time of the alleged offences (a consideration that has not as of yet been deemed relevant in the US military commission proceeding). The report calls on the Canadian government to seek Khadr's repatriation to Canada.