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Public Statement: Canada (November 2008)

Omar Khadr

On November 6, 2008, the Law Society of Upper Canada wrote to the Right Honourable Stephen J. Harper to express its deep concern about the situation of the Canadian citizen Omar Khadr, the only citizen of a western nation currently being held at Guantanamo Bay.

Omar Khadr was apprehended by the American military in Afghanistan in July 2002. In November 2005, terrorism-related charges were laid against him before a U.S. Military Commission in relation to events which are alleged to have occurred when Mr. Khadr was 15 years old.

Mr. Khadr has been in detention at Guantánamo Bay for a quarter of his life. The Law Society, in its letter to the Prime Minister, notes that the Supreme Court of Canada rendered a unanimous judgment on May 23, 2008 in the Khadr case, holding "The violations of human rights identified by the United States Supreme Court are sufficient to permit us to conclude that the regime providing for the detention and trial of Mr. Khadr at the time of the CSIS interviews constituted a clear violation of fundamental human rights protected by international law."

The Law Society also referred to the Supreme Court's judgement in the case of R. v. D.B. , in which the court held that, "young people are entitled to a presumption of diminished moral blameworthiness or culpability flowing from the fact that, because of their age, they have heightened vulnerability less maturity and a reduced capacity for moral judgment." The fact that Mr. Khadr was 15 at the time of his capture has not been reflected in the manner of his treatment.

The Law Society of Upper Canada regards adherence to the rule of law and due process as fundamental principles that are the right of every Canadian citizen.

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