Thursday, October 4, 2012

From Roget Fitch and our friends down under at Justinian

Epic injustice for child soldier

THE Guantánamo prisoner Omar Khadr has been repatriated to Canada, after more than 10 years of patently unlawful American detention. Here's a chronology of his life.
After a year of stonewalling, the Canadian government has agreed to the return of a citizen who is apparently the first person convicted in a military trial for simply killing an enemy combatant - an act that has always been regarded as lawful in war (see post of November 2010).
Omar Khadr's offences seem as much political as military.
In 2002, a child of 15, he found himself, at his father's direction, in an Afghan house that exchanged fire with US soldiers. He had little choice but to defend himself, but an American died.
That a Canadian should actively resist American soldiers offended both governments: he must be punished, and so he was sent to Guantánamo.
All "terror" detentions at Guantánamo have been unlawful, one way or another.
No prisoner has been provided the independent prisoner of war determination required by both the Geneva Conventions and the US Uniform Code of Military Justice.
All have been detained and/or treated in ways that violate multiple international treaties. Omar Khadr's case is one of injustice on an epic scale.
It's hard to know where to start.
First, he was a 15 year old boy caught in a war on his father's initiative. Both Canada and the US seem to have forgotten they are signatories to the "Child Soldier Protocol" that provides that children engaged in war should be regarded as victims whose rehabilitation is paramount.