Amnesty International welcomes official announcement from Canadian government about compensation and apology for Omar Khadr
Amnesty International welcomed the official announcement today from Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould that settlement has been reached with respect to Omar Khadr’s lawsuit. Mr. Khadr has received compensation and an apology from the Canadian government for the troubling role that Canadian officials played in the serious human rights violations he experienced while held by US forces at Guantánamo Bay between 2002 and 2012.
Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada noted,
“Omar Khadr has been trapped in an endless labyrinth of injustice, pain, abuse and torment for fifteen years. Today’s settlement is acknowledgement that Canadian action and inaction contributed substantially to the human rights violations experienced by a young man whose ordeal began when he was captured as a 15 year-old child soldier. It offers Omar Khadr the means to repair the wrongs done to him and build the promising future he so keenly desires. It also sends a crucial message, across Canada and beyond, that human rights violations will not be tolerated in Canada’s national security operations; and there will be consequences and amends when violations do occur.”
Amnesty International issued a press release on July 4th, responding to unofficial reports that settlement had been reached.
Alex Neve further noted,
“In recent days politicians and a variety of media commentators and other public figures have criticized this settlement, often with considerable vitriol, repeating accusations that Omar Khadr is a terrorist and war criminal and suggesting it is “odious” to provide him with compensation and an apology. That campaign of politicized and inflammatory vilification was particular strong under the previous government and is in fact one clear aspect of wrongdoing that lies at the heart of why settlement has been necessary. Notably, however, large numbers of Canadians have expressed strong support for the settlement and clear compassion towards Omar Khadr and what he has endured. Support for him has grown considerably following his release on bail in May 2015 and the remarkable resilience he has demonstrated as he has settled into a new life in Edmonton and pursued his education.
Far from odious, the decision to provide redress to Omar Khadr, including an official apology, is principled, commendable and very much the right thing to do. If anything is disgraceful about this settlement it is the fact that it starkly reminds us that Canada turned its back on an imprisoned and tortured child soldier for a decade; and that it has taken over seven years since a unanimous Supreme Court of Canada judgement clearly finding that his Charter rights had been violated, to finally provide him with a remedy for the wrongs done to him by his own nation.”
For more information, please contact Sue Montgomery, media relations for Amnesty International Canada, at 613-744-7667 ext 236 or firstname.lastname@example.org