Defence lawyers urge Supreme Court to force Khadr review
By Sheila Pratt
EDMONTON — Defence lawyers went to federal court in Edmonton Tuesday to try to force a review of the government’s refusal to repatriate Omar Khadr, the Canadian accused of killing an American soldier in a firefight in Afghanistan and now held in the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay.
The federal government had an obligation of “procedural fairness” to hear from Khadr about possible alternative remedies after it rejected the Supreme Court’s advice to repatriate the 23-year-old, argued Nate Whitling and Dennis Edney.
Instead, federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson decided on a different remedy, refusing to hear from the one citizen directly affected, said Whitling. That violates the principles of natural justice that require a hearing for a citizen whose rights have been violated.
The Supreme Court ruled Jan. 29 that Khadr’s charter rights were violated when government officials interrogated Khadr, then 16, knowing he had been subject to mistreatment to soften him up for questioning. The court recommended the government seek to repatriate Khadr.
The government opted instead to send a diplomatic note to the American government requesting that prosecutors at Khadr’s military trial refrain from using as evidence the results of Canadian Security Intelligence Service interviews. U.S. prosecutors refused the request.
After rejecting the Supreme Court’s advice on repatriation, the Harper government approached the issue of finding its own remedy with “a closed mind,” said Whitling.
The government had said previously several times it would not repatriate Khadr, which raises the question of whether the government approached the issue “with an open mind,” he said.
“The decision-maker has an obligation to consider the remedy with fairness and impartiality,” said Whitling.
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