An official for Canada‘s Department of Foreign Affairs May 7 confirmed the government’s intention to appeal a Federal Court ruling directing Ottawa to firmly push for the repatriation of Canadian Guantánamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr. In a brief statement obtained by the Toronto Star, the official emphasized Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s belief that the severity of the crimes allegedly committed by Khadr call for a judicial rather than a political process.
Khadr’s case has attracted a great deal of international attention due to his status as the only citizen of a Western nation currently being held at Guantánamo Bay, and his status as one of of two detainees being held at the US prison camp for crimes allegedly committed when he was a minor. Khadr’s lawyers have insisted that as signatories to the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict [text], both Canada and the US are prohibited from treating a juvenile soldier as a member of enemy forces.
In last month’s ruling, Justice James O’Reilly found that Khadr’s rights under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms were infringed by the Canadian government’s refusal to request his return. Section 7 provides that “[e]veryone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.” Khadr has allegedly admitted to throwing a hand grenade that killed a US soldier in Afghanistan and was charged in April 2007 with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, providing material support for terrorism, and spying. (Jurist, May 9)