PM must press U.S. for Khadr’s return from Guantanamo, court rules – Harper says government is considering appeal
From CBC News
Last Updated: Thursday, April 23, 2009 | 4:30 PM ET
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is required to press the United States for the return of Omar Khadr to Canada from Guantanamo Bay to “comply with a principle of fundamental justice,” a Federal Court judge ruled Thursday.
Unmoved, Harper said the government may try to overturn the judge’s decision on Khadr, who is accused of killing a U.S. army soldier with a hand grenade during a gunfight in Afghanistan in 2002.
“The facts, in our judgment, have not changed,” he told MPs during question period. “We will be looking at the decision very carefully and, obviously, considering an appeal.”
Justice James O’Reilly ruled in favour of Khadr’s charter challenge of the Canadian government’s decision not to request his repatriation from the U.S. detention centre in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“The ongoing refusal of Canada to request Mr. Khadr’s repatriation to Canada offends a principle of fundamental justice and violates Mr. Khadr’s rights,” O’Reilly said in his 43-page decision.
“To mitigate the effect of that violation, Canada must present a request to the United States for Mr. Khadr’s repatriation as soon as practicable.”
The CBC’s Rosemary Barton, reporting from Ottawa, said the government has long maintained that because of the seriousness of the charges, the Toronto-born Khadr should face military proceedings in the United States.
In Thursday’s decision, the judge pointed out that Khadr is the last citizen of any Western country held at Guantanamo. Other countries have repatriated their citizens.
Khadr’s lawyers argued the Canadian government was complicit in the detainee’s alleged torture and mistreatment while in U.S. custody and obliged under international law to demand his return.
Khadr, now 22, was 15 at the time he was detained in Afghanistan.
Harper has steadfastly refused to get involved.
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