Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Omar Khadr, Free at Last

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Omar Khadr, Free at Last

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Omar Khadr, free at last


An editorial from the Toronto Star, published May 7:

Omar Khadr is a free man today, no thanks to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's obsessively vindictive government. But the injustice Khadr has suffered continues to shame us all.

When the ugly history of Guantanamo Bay and the war on terror is written, it will record that Canada, alone of all Western countries, did not press for the return of a detainee.

"We left a child, a Canadian child, in Guantanamo Bay to suffer torture," his lawyer Dennis Edney said on Thursday after an Alberta court ordered Khadr freed on bail. Canada may style itself a "leading advocate" of children swept up in armed conflict. But when Khadr was abandoned to the Taliban by his father at age 15, Edney said, "we gave him no mercy."

That pretty much sums up Ottawa's sordid role in this ugly affair. Canada's image as a nation that upholds civil rights and the rule of law has been tarnished by this affair, and it won't soon recover.

In the end it took rulings by two level-headed Alberta judges to spring "Guantanamo's Child" from prison after almost 13 years in detention. Last month Justice June Ross rightly granted him bail, with strict conditions.

And on Thursday Justice Myra Bielby quashed a federal bid to keep him behind bars, ruling that Ottawa failed to prove that setting him free would cause "irreparable harm" to Canada's relations with the United States and other treaty partners. As the Star's Michelle Shephard has reported, the U.S. State Department has made it abundantly clear that Khadr's release won't damage relations. Within hours, Khadr was free.

The Canadian courts have got it right. Psychological profiling confirms that Khadr poses no great threat. He admits to having "screwed up" as a youth. He is appealing his dubious Gitmo conviction in the U. …

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