Selected resources about Omar Khadr

thanks to Helen Sadowski for her assistance with resources


April 2012   Briefing to the Committee against Torture on the review of Canada from Lawyers Rights Watch Canada and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group Briefing regarding the case of Omar Khadr.    LRWC&

(this explores the contradictory evidence about Omar Khadr’s capture in Afghanistan in July of 2002 and the gap between the first account released by the U.S. military in August of 2002 and evidence inadvertently released later in 2008. The military first announced that Omar Khadr was the sole survivor of the four-hour helicopter bombardment. This first report said that Delta Force soldiers who entered the Afghani house  found him with a pistol in one hand and a grenade in the other. They said he was facing the soldier when shot. In fact the documentary evidence released in 2008 consisted of an eye-witness interview of the first Delta Force soldier to enter the alley beside the house says otherwise. It indicates that the original report was changed from one to two survivors in the house. It looks likely that Omar Khadr was blinded by schrapnel during the four-hour U.S. helicoptor bombardment and incapacitated. Evidence also suggests that the U.S. soldier Christopher Speer may have been killed not with a Russian-made grenade but by “friendly fire” and an American grenade. This documentary also explores evidence and interviews with a former interrogator in Bagram and other experts who discuss the torture of Omar Khadr in Bagram and Guantanamo. As well, the documentary examines the Canadian government’s knowledge of Omar Khadr’s mistreatment.)



Canadian Civil Liberties Association 

…Speculation among observers is that Mr. Khadr has plead guilty to avoid a trial before the US Military Commissions, which would have permitted the use of ‘coerced’ statements made by Mr. Khadr in the months following his arrest, and would have afforded lesser due process protections than a US federal court.  The US Military Commissions have been denounced internationally by human rights lawyers as a ‘kangaroo court’ that is unfair and fails to provide due process rights guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the US Constitution.

Mr. Khadr’s guilty plea spares the Canadian government the continued embarrassment of failing to seek the repatriation of a Canadian citizen being prosecuted for crimes allegedly committed as a child, and for providing the US with information likely used in the case against him.  The plea also spares the US the embarrassment of being the first country since World War II to prosecute a child soldier for war crimes.  Indeed the treatment of  Mr. Khadr does not comply with the legal obligations of both Canada and the US.  Both countries have ratified the the First Optional Protocol of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which recognizes that child soldiers are often conscripted against their will into armed conflict, do not act freely, and must be rehabilitated and not prosecuted.  Canada has also ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, voluntarily assuming heightened legal obligations regarding the protection of children in legal proceedings and in armed conflict.

August 9th, 2010 – Khadr Military Trial to Begin in US 

Last week Omar Khadr’s military lawyer petitioned the US Supreme Court to delay his trial, until the legality of the Military Commissions could be determined.  That petition was unsuccessful.  Accordingly, Mr. Khadr’s trial before the Military Commissions will go ahead.

At a pre-trial hearing August 9th, 2010, the Military Judge ruled that Mr. Khadr’s ‘confessions’ — taken after his arrest when he was badly injured, chained, at times hooded, and subjected to sleep deprivation and apparent threats of serious harm — are admissible.  Mr. Khadr himself, who was 15 years old at the time, has stated that he told the interrogators whatever they wanted to hear so they would not further mistreat him.

CCLA argues that Canada should call for Omar Khadr’s repatriation.  The trial of a child soldier in these circumstances violates the First International Protocol of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Canada and the US have ratified.  International law recognizes that children act either without full awareness or independence in armed conflict, and are often forcibly conscripted into hostilities, therefore requiring special protections which Omar Khadr did not receive.  Child soldiers must be rehabilitated, not punished. Further, the lower evidentiary standards of the Military Commissions admitting evidence obtained by torture or improper treatment,  contravenes international standards.  The Supreme Court of Canada in January 2010 ruled that Omar Khadr’s Charter rights were breached when Canadian officials interrogated him at Guantanamo Bay knowing he was a child,  knowing he was subjected to ‘improper treatment’, and passed on this information to US officials.  Because that information may be used to keep Mr. Khadr in Guantanamo Bay and may form part of the case against him, the Supreme Court of Canada noted that the effects of the Charter breach continue to this day, and ordered Canada to provide Mr. Khadr with a remedy for the breach of his rights.  CCLA believes Canada must protect Mr. Khadr.  He is the last westerner remaining at Guantanamo Bay, as all other western countries have repatriated their citizens.

Selected Opinion Pieces and News Articles

  • ongoing columns by Michelle Shephard at The Toronto Star author of Guantanamo’s Child: The Untold Story of Omar Khadr (Wiley, 2008) and you can follow her  Star articles here.
  • Silence on Khadr is deafening – (letter to the editor)
  • August 27, 2010 front page NYT article about Obama’s alarm at the military tribunal: “U.S. Wary of Example Set by Tribunal Case.” Discussion of plea bargain if the murder charge is dropped. Here is Daphne Eviatar’s response to the NYT article.
  • Daphne Eviatar of Human Rights First, “How to Overcome the “Legacy of Torture”
  • “…conflicting rulings can happen in the military commissions, an ad hoc justice system created in fits and starts over the last eight years with no binding precedent or road-tested rules. It’s one reason why those military commissions lack the legitimacy of civilian federal courts.
  • Like the court rulings ordering Guantanamo detainees freed, the military commissions, too, are a legacy of torture. They’re an attempt to patch together a quasi-justice system to accommodate, without acknowledging or rectifying, the egregious mistakes of the past.
  • But neither new detention rules nor military commissions can truly overcome torture’s legacy. That can only be done by admitting what happened, holding perpetrators accountable, and ultimately, prosecuting terror suspects in our time-tested, world-renowned American justice system. And that is rightly something about which this country can be proud.”
  • August 11, 2010 Glenn Greenwald “The Omar Khadr Travesty”
    • “The military commission of a child soldier demonstrates that many of the worst Bush/Cheney abuses continue. Khadr, then 15 years old, was taken to Bagram near death, after being shot twice in the … The final question is: Why is Omar Khadr being tried by a military court if the …”


  • Democracy interview with Michelle Shephard, author of Guantanamo’s Child: The Untold Story of Omar Khadr (Wiley, 2008)