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Federal Court rules Harper must seek Khadr’s return

The CBC reports this afternoon that, “Prime Minister Stephen Harper is required to press the United States for the return of Omar Khadr to Canada from Guantanamo Bay to ‘comply with a principle of fundamental justice,’ a Federal Court judge ruled Thursday. Unmoved, Harper said the government may try to overturn the judge’s decision on Khadr, who is accused of killing a U.S. army soldier with a hand grenade during a gunfight in Afghanistan in 2002…Justice James O’Reilly ruled in favour of Khadr’s charter challenge of the Canadian government’s decision not to request his repatriation from the U.S. detention centre in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. ‘The ongoing refusal of Canada to request Mr. Khadr’s repatriation to Canada offends a principle of fundamental justice and violates Mr. Khadr’s rights,’ O’Reilly said in his 43-page decision. ‘To mitigate the effect of that violation, Canada must present a request to the United States for Mr. Khadr’s repatriation as soon as practicable.’”

The Council of Canadians has made many interventions over the last several years in defence of Omar Khadr’s fundamental rights.

Maude Barlow, Alex Neve and Roch Tasse wrote in the Ottawa Citizen on June 5, 2007 that, “By not insisting that Omar Khadr be treated in accordance with the full range of his basic human rights, the Canadian government is indicating that it is willing to trade away rights for the sake of making friends in Washington. It is time for Canada to speak out about Guantanamo Bay, and advocate more forcefully on behalf of Omar Khadr. If there is one file where the U.S. government needs to be pressed by Canada to restore the protection of fundamental human rights, this is it. The silence must come to an end.”

The Federal Court of Canada upheld this view today.

Today’s CBC news report can be read at http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2009/04/23/khadr-harper-court042309.html.

The Ottawa Citizen op-ed is at http://canadians.org/media/council/2007/05-June-07.html.