Omar Khadr: New Developments

The journey takes a turn
Rahman Mohamed

Before and after returning to Canada from Guantanamo Bay in 2012 Omar Khadr has faced many trials.  Another has begun.

Before leaving Guantanamo Bay Khadr was classified as a minimum security prisoner.  But when he landed in Canada he woke up in Millhaven penitentiary, a maximum security institute.  When he opened his eyes on  May 27, 2013 he was in a maximum-security Edmonton Institution.  The reason: his life was at risk in Millhaven because he was being threatened by a fellow inmate and an Alberta judge rejected an argument that he should be transferred to a provincial prison.

When he first entered the courtroom in September 2013 he was smiling, clean-shaven and well-dressed.

On October 18, 2013, CBC reported that Associate Chief Justice John Rooke said his decision was not based on whether it would be better for Khadr to serve his sentence in place or another, but based on the International Transfer of Offenders Act.  But Khadr’s lawyer, Dennis Edney, said he would be appealing it because he believes Justice Rooke “made a mistake in fact and in law … in his interpretation of Section 20 of the International Transfer of Offenders Act”.

While in Edmonton it was been reported that Khadr has been denied medical treatment.

In February CBC reported that the prisoner’s Ombudsman said Correctional Services Canada had been treating Khadr unfairly.  In an affidavit Khadr said he plead guilty as a way out of Guantanamo but has no memory of a firefight in Afghanistan.  On top of that Amnesty International has been urging the Conservative government to appoint a “respected” sitting or retired judge to review his entire file.

Now a new battle has entered the Alberta Court of Appeal: did Correctional Service of Canada properly interpret Khadr’s sentence when he was returned to Canada?  On April 29 it was reported that Khadr’s lawyer said he should have been treated as a youth, not an adult since he was 15-years-old was he was convicted.

At a talk at the University of Toronto Mississauga Campus Dennis Edney said that he defends Khadr using his own resources because he believes “Omar Khadr is a just cause; that Omar Khadr is worth fighting for.  And because I know Omar Khadr.  And because I’ve spent years fighting for Omar Khadr, I can’t simply cannot walk away from him.

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