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CBA Urges Canadian and American Governments to Repatriate Canadian Citizen Omar Khadr

CBA Urges Canadian and American Governments to Repatriate Canadian Citizen Omar Khadr
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February 26, 2009

OTTAWA – The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) is calling on the Canadian and American governments to work together to repatriate Omar Khadr to Canada to face justice in this country.

“It is time to conclude the chapter on Omar Khadr’s detention in Guantanamo Bay,” says CBA president Guy Joubert of Winnipeg. “He has spent six years in custody where he has not been afforded his full rights, and he remains the only Western citizen detained at Guantanamo Bay. It is time to repatriate Mr. Khadr to Canada where his guilt or innocence can be determined.”

In a resolution carried by an overwhelming majority at the CBA’s Mid-Winter Meeting of Council on Feb. 21, 2009 in Lake Louise, Alberta, the Association has taken its position regarding Omar Khadr’s repatriation to the next level.

The CBA is urging the Canadian and U.S. governments to negotiate the terms of his repatriation so that it recognizes the Optional Protocol, due process and the rule of law, and the desirability of ensuring the national security of both countries, and to transfer the evidence respecting his conduct to the Canadian government.

The Optional Protocol refers to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. Omar Khadr has not been fully afforded the basic entitlements of due process under the rule of law, such as the right to counsel and the right to know the case against him, nor has he been afforded any process that takes into account his unique status as a minor under the terms of the Protocol.

“Given Omar Khadr’s age, his being subject to conditions of confinement and interrogation that Canadian courts have found violate international prohibitions against torture and the frailty of evidence against him, it is not clear whether he could be tried in the U.S. in a manner that complies with the Optional Protocol and due process under the law,” explains CBA President Guy Joubert.

This resolution comes a month after the CBA wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper calling for the Canadian government to advise the U.S. that it is open to receiving Mr. Khadr to face judicial process in Canada. The CBA has been calling for his repatriation since August 2007, when the CBA first wrote to the Prime Minister.

The CBA continues to stress that once Omar Khadr is repatriated, officials in the Canadian justice system can conduct an independent assessment of admissible evidence against him to determine whether the evidence supports charges under Canadian law, and when appropriate, make arrangements for his supervision and reintegration into the community.

The Canadian Bar Association is dedicated to improvement in the law and the administration of justice. Some 38,000 lawyers, law teachers, and law students from across Canada are members.

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CONTACT: Hannah Bernstein, Canadian Bar Association, Tel: (613) 237-2925, ext. 146; E-mail: hannahb@cba.org.

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