Khadr trial could set precedent for prosecution of minors: UN representative

[JURIST] UN Special Representative for the Children and Armed Conflict Unit Radhika Coomaraswamy [official profile] Tuesday expressed concern about the prosecution of Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr [JURIST news archive], saying that prosecuting Khadr for alleged war crimes committed while he was a minor could set a dangerous precedent. Coomaraswamy made the comments to US State Department legal adviser John Bellinger [official profile], but no word is available on Bellinger's response. Human rights groups have criticized the US for proceeding with the trial, saying that it violates the Optional Protocol of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child [text], which gives special protection to children under 18 involved in armed conflicts.

A spokesperson said that Coomaraswamy has also had discussions with officials in Canada, Khadr's home nation, which has so far declined to intervene on Khadr's behalf. Khadr military defense lawyer Lt.-Cmdr. William Kuebler is currently in London asking MPs and human rights activists to push the Canadian government to call for Khadr's extradition [Globe and Mail report]. CBC News has more.

On Wednesday, five news organizations - the Associated Press, the New York Times Co., Dow Jones & Company Inc., the Hearst Corp. and the McClatchy Company [corporate websites] - said they were being blocked from substantial portions of the military commission proceeding against Khadr. In a court filing, the news groups said that many of the motions and arguments in Khadr's case are being made via e-mail or in closed sessions, meaning that there are no public records of what is discussed. AP has more.

 

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