US transfers Gitmo detainee Khadr to Canada

Canadian citizen Omar Khadr was transferred to Canada from Guantánamo Bay early Sept. 30 to serve out the rest of his prison sentence under the authority of the Correctional Service of Canada. Khadr pleaded guilty to murdering US Sergeant First Class Christoper Speer, an Army medic, as well as charges of conspiracy and spying, material support of a terrorist group and attempted murder. He was originally sentenced to eight years in 2010 on top of the eight years he had already spent in prison. The rest of his sentence and future parole hearings, however, will now be handled by Canadian authorities according to Canadian law.

The US delivered Khadr’s papers to Canada earlier this month while it was considering the possibility of transferring him. UN officials called for the transfer of Khadr in July after his lawyers renewed his transfer request the previous month. He made a formal request to the Canadian government in April after being approved for transfer by the US government. He made a claim in 2010 that his confession to charges against him was a product of torture, but those claims were rejected  by a military judge. Khadr, 26, was the youngest prisoner to be held at Guantánamo Bay.

From Jurist, Sept. 30. Used with permission.

  1. Amnesty International statement on Omar Khadr transfer
    Suzanne Nossel, Amnesty International USA‘s executive director, issued the following response to reports that the US has repatriated Guantánamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr to Canada:

    Given the Obama administration’s glacial pace towards closing the U.S.-controlled detention center, little and late though it is, today’s news represents progress.

    Khadr was imprisoned at the age of 15, subjected to ill-treatment and then prosecuted in a military commissions system that does not meet international fair trial standards. Growing up in Guantanamo and facing more prison time in Canada, his future remains uncertain.

    However, Canada now has the chance to right some of these wrongs. There should be a full and impartial investigation into Khadr’s allegations of torture, and remedy for the human rights violations he suffered. In addition, Amnesty International calls on Canadian authorities to afford Khadr the full protections to which he is entitled under law, and to ensure he receives appropriate rehabilitation in preparation for his eventual release.

    Khadr’s tragic story underscores why Guantanamo should close–not tomorrow, but today.  President Obama must live up to his promise to close the book on the Guantanamo chapter and ensure that all detainees are either charged and fairly tried, or released. That’s the only way to ensure justice for everyone.

    We welcome the calls to investigate Khadr’s torture claims and close Guatnánamo, but we question use of the word “rehabilitation,” which seems to assume Khadr’s guilt—despite the torture claims.