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Try Khadr or free him

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    Try Khadr or free him Globe and Mail July 2, 2006 http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20060701.EKHADR01/TPStory/Comment Omar Khadr deserves a
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 4, 2006
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      Try Khadr or free him
      Globe and Mail
      July 2, 2006
      http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20060701.EKHADR01/TPStory/Comment


      Omar Khadr deserves a second chance in life. Even if Canada's lone
      detainee in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is guilty of every charge levelled
      by the United States, including murder, he should not pay for his
      crimes for the rest of his life. He was 15 when he was accused, and he
      has paid severely. Four years in the black hole of Guantanamo may not
      be punishment enough for committing terrible crimes at 15, but it is
      certainly close.

      Enough is enough, as one member of his legal team said this week after
      the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the military tribunals set up by the
      Bush administration for Mr. Khadr and some of the other Guantanamo
      detainees. Canada should demand that he receive a fair trial -- soon
      -- or be returned to this country.

      But wait, people will ask. Is he dangerous? No one knows. It is
      impossible to guess at what is in his mind after four years in
      Guantanamo. Like any other citizen of Canada, however, he has a right
      to justice -- to be judged for his actions and be given a reasonable
      penalty, taking into account his youth and his years in the limbo of
      Guantanamo.

      At the moment, it is unclear how the U.S. government will proceed. But
      it is possible that Mr. Khadr will face a sentence of life in prison
      without a chance at parole if found guilty of the serious charges
      against him, which include murdering a U.S. soldier, blinding another
      one in one eye and helping al-Qaeda lay mines in Afghanistan. The
      United States has 2,250 prisoners sentenced as juveniles to life
      without parole. No other country but Somalia is known to apply this
      inhumane form of punishment.

      Mr. Khadr has lived for four years in utter "rightslessness." Unlike
      either a prisoner of war or an accused criminal, he could not refuse
      to be interrogated. The interrogations, he has maintained in an
      affidavit, have involved being put in painful positions for long
      periods. He has had no impartial tribunal before which he could demand
      legal rights. Four years in Guantanamo can in no way be likened to
      four years in any other North American jail.

      Mr. Khadr may not appear deserving of sympathy. Like anyone else,
      whether adult or teen, he bears primary responsibility for his own
      actions. Responsibility also lies with his parents, who cynically and
      recklessly exposed their children to harm. Omar's brother, Karim, was
      disabled at 13 in the same post-9/11 battle in Afghanistan that killed
      their father, Ahmed Said, a senior al-Qaeda financier. Another brother
      faces extradition to the U.S. on charges of procuring munitions for
      al-Qaeda; a third was in Guantanamo for a year. But it is irrelevant
      that Omar Khadr is not a cuddly hero. All prisoners are entitled to
      basic rights, and juvenile offenders -- even the worst of them -- are
      less morally culpable than adults.

      If Guantanamo is a stain on the United States, the treatment of the
      juvenile Mr. Khadr is especially shameful, not only for the U.S. but
      Canada, which has made only limited interventions on his behalf,
      seeking Canadian lawyers for him and an assurance, which was a long
      time in coming, that the U.S. would not seek the death penalty (the
      U.S. Supreme Court abolished the death penalty for juveniles last
      year, but Canada worried the U.S. would find a reason to demand it).

      It has been easy for Canadians to ignore Mr. Khadr's situation. The
      Khadr family has stretched Canadians' patience beyond the breaking
      point. In an interview on national television, Mr. Khadr's mother and
      sister boasted of playing volleyball with Osama bin Laden. As long as
      Omar Khadr is in Guantanamo, he is someone else's problem.

      But ultimately Canadians and their government need to move beyond
      their abhorrence of the family and what it stands for. They need to
      ask what basic justice demands. Four years at Guantanamo for alleged
      crimes committed at 15, perhaps to be followed by life in jail without
      parole -- that is not justice. Far better, if he is tried and found
      guilty, would be a life sentence with early parole eligibility that
      would allow him to be monitored in the community for the rest of his life.

      Mr. Khadr puts to the test Canada's commitment to seek fairness and
      justice for its people, especially its young people, even those
      accused of doing terrible things.

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