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UN protests trial of Canadian detainee

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    UN protests decision to try Khadr Sheldon Alberts The Ottawa Citizen
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 2, 2008
      UN protests decision to try Khadr
      Sheldon Alberts
      The Ottawa Citizen

      WASHINGTON - The United Nations has launched a formal protest with the
      United States over its decision to try Canadian terrorism suspect Omar
      Khadr, who was 15 years old when captured on the battlefield in

      Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN Special Representative for Children in
      Armed Conflict, will take up Mr. Khadr's case during a meeting today
      in Washington.

      Ms. Coomaraswamy will be sitting down with with John Bellinger,
      Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's senior legal adviser.

      "She will raise her concerns about the creation of an international
      precedent where an individual is being tried for crimes with regards
      to alleged acts committed when he was a child," Laurence Gerard, a
      spokeswoman for Ms. Coomaraswamy, told CanWest News Service.

      The UN's decision to complain to the Bush administration about Mr.
      Khadr's upcoming murder trial follows a separate, behind-the-scenes
      appeal by Ms. Coomaraswamy to Canadian officials about the case.

      "There were also bilateral (exchanges) with Canada," said Ms. Gerard,
      who would not provide details of a letter dispatched to Foreign
      Affairs officials in Ottawa.

      Mr. Khadr, now 21, is charged with murder for allegedly throwing a
      grenade that killed U.S. army Sgt. Christopher Speer during a
      firefight near Khost, Afghanistan, in July 2002.

      Mr. Khadr has been detained since November 2002 at the U.S. military
      prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and is now the only remaining citizen
      of a western country in detention there.

      He faces additional charges of attempted murder, conspiracy, spying
      and providing material aid to terrorism.

      According to Ms. Coomaraswamy, Mr. Khadr's upcoming trial runs
      contrary to the Optional Protocol of the UN Convention on the Rights
      of the Child. The protocol, which the U.S. ratified in 2002, states
      persons under the age of 18 years enlisted or conscripted into armed
      conflict "are entitled to special protection" under the law. Human
      rights groups argue the U.S. has obligations under the treaty to
      demobilize and rehabilitate child soldiers.

      Mr. Khadr's lawyers said yesterday they were buoyed by Ms.
      Coomaraswamy's intervention.

      The UN's concern "shows that the international community views Omar as
      a child soldier, deserving of the rights and protections afforded to
      former child soldiers under international law," said Lt.-Cmdr. William
      Kuebler, the military defence lawyer detailed to Mr. Khadr's case.

      "It also shows the potential for damage to Canada's international
      reputation as a champion of human rights and leader in efforts to
      protect children involved in armed conflict."

      The federal government has not protested Mr. Khadr's detention or
      upcoming trial, citing the seriousness of the accusations against him.



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