[JURIST] Human rights groups and defense lawyers have criticized the refusal of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper [official profile] to interfere with US proceedings against Canadian Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr [DOD materials; JURIST news archive] in light of documents [text, PDF] released Thursday showing that the Canadian government knew Khadr had been mistreated [JURIST report]. Harper spoke Friday of the severity of the criminal charges against Khadr, and called the Guantanamo process necessary to discover the truth. Harper also stressed that the US has assured Canada that the treatment of Khadr is humane. Amnesty International Canada (AI) [advocacy website] said in an open letter [text, PDF] that the treatment revealed by the documents constitutes torture, and that Canadian inaction is indefensible and unjust:
It is shocking to learn that as far back as five years ago Canadian officials knew of the torture and ill-treatment Omar Khadr had experienced but did not intervene on his behalf. Instead at that time, much as today, the government had insisted that they had received assurances from US officials that Mr. Khadr was being well-treated, in a manner consistent with the spirit of the Geneva Conventions, and that there was therefore no reason for Canada to intervene. Today's revelations underscore how unreliable and hollow those assurances were.Lawyers for Khadr have agreed with AI's calls for Canadian government action [Canwest report] on Khadr's behalf. CTV has more.
Khadr faces life imprisonment for April 2007 charges [charge sheet, PDF; JURIST report] of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, providing material support for terrorism and spying. Khadr is one of four [JURIST report] Guantanamo detainees facing prosecution under the Military Commissions Act of 2006 [text, PDF]. On March 13, a US military judge also ruled [JURIST report] that some correspondence between US and Canadian government officials regarding Khadr must be turned over to Khadr's defense team. In an affidavit released in early May, Khadr accused US interrogators of mistreatment [JURIST report], including threatening him with rape, physically abusing him, and forcing him to swear to false statements.