GUANTANAMO DETAINEE MUST HAVE CANADIAN LAWYERS
(Ottawa, Canada) - The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations
(CAIR-CAN) called on the government to enter into talks with U.S.
officials to ensure that Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr is
permitted representation by Canadian legal counsel.
CAIR-CAN's request comes after Khadr, a Canadian citizen, dismissed
his American legal counsel.
In a letter sent yesterday to Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay,
CAIR-CAN stated: "While Mr. Khadr has repeatedly demanded to be
represented solely by Canadian legal counsel, Mr. Bellinger [a U.S.
State Department official] has indicated that Canadian lawyers can
only be retained as consultants."
CAIR-CAN is also calling on Minister MacKay to thoroughly investigate
allegations that Khadr was tortured and held in extended isolation,
and to ensure that Khadr's detention and trial respect international law.
CAIR-CAN Executive Director Karl Nickner said: "It's disconcerting
that, unlike our allies Britain and Australia, Canada, and the
Department of Foreign Affairs in particular, have remained
conspicuously silent in ensuring that Mr. Khadr's detention and trial
are held in accordance to international law. Minister MacKay must
guarantee that Mr. Khadr is permitted to represent himself in front of
all U.S. tribunals and courts with Canadian lawyers of his choosing."
Nickner said, to date, several other issues also have been ignored by
the Canadian government, including Khadr's alleged torture and
long-term isolation, and the fact that a U.S. State Department
official stated that Khadr may be held by the U.S. indefinitely, even
if found innocent of all charges.
Khadr, who was 15 at the time of his capture in Afghanistan, has been
held at Guantanamo Bay – a U.S. military facility regarded by jurists
and the U.N. Human Rights Committee as existing outside of
international law – for five years.
SEE: CAIR-CAN Letter to Minister MacKay
SEE: Khadr fires American lawyers
SEE: U.S. says Khadr could be held indefinitely
SEE: Speak up, Mr. Harper - Guantanamo is a disgrace
By Joe Clark, Lloyd Axworthy, Flora MacDonald, Bill Graham, John
Manley and Pierre Pettigrew
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