Reacting to today’s release of a video publicly showing Canadian citizen Omar Khadr being questioned at the US detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Amnesty International called for Khadr to be repatriated to Canada immediately.
The video is the first of a detainee being questioned in Guantanamo and shows Khadr being interrogated by Canadian officials in 2003 when he was just sixteen years old.
While he is not shown being directly ill-treated, he is shown crying, calling out for help repeatedly and showing his wounds to the officials. He is also shown as being without legal representation. “The treatment of Omar Khadr throughout his detention violates the USA’s obligations under international law, which requires that in all actions concerning children the best interests of the child must be a primary consideration,” said Amnesty International.
“The US has violated international standards by refusing to recognize Omar Khadr’s status as a minor and treating him accordingly.”
On 19 June, Omar Khadr appeared at a military commission pre-trial hearing in Guantanamo. A trial date in his case was set for 8 October 2008.
“No one who was a child at the time of their alleged crime should be tried by military commissions, which have no juvenile justice provisions whatsoever,” said Amnesty International. “Omar Khadr should either be repatriated and tried in Canada by an ordinary court or released.”
Amnesty International said that the entire military commission system is fundamentally flawed and the tribunals must be abandoned in all cases.
Background information Omar Khadr was detained by the US military in Afghanistan in 2002, when he was 15 years old. He has been held in Guantanamo Bay since he was 16. He is now 21.
Successive Canadian governments have repeatedly stressed that they sought and received assurances from US authorities that Omar Khadr was being treated humanely in detention at Guantánamo Bay. However, documents released on 10 July 2008 (following a December 2007 Supreme Court of Canada decision that Omar Khadr should be granted access to some of the records of his interrogation by Canadian officials in 2003 and 2004) revealed that the Canadian government was aware that he was being subjected to so-called “stress and duress” techniques. Yet, Canadian officials still proceeded with their interrogations of Omar Khadr.
To see further information about the case of Omar Khadr, please see:
USA: In whose best interests? Omar Khadr, child ‘enemy combatant’ facing military commission, 16 April 2008, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR51/028/2008/en
Other relevant materials:
http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR51/066/2008/en http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR51/065/2008/en http://www.amnesty.ca/resource_centre/news/view.php?load=arcview&article=4373&c=Resource+Centre+News