The Canadian government failed to defend human dignity and fundamental human rights in Omar Khadr's case, says editorial public domain

Editorial: Our leaders failed to defend human dignity, rights in Khadr’s case

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  • July 13, 2017

The $10.5-million takeaway from the sordid affair of Omar Khadr is that all of society loses when its leaders fail to stand in vigorous defence of God-given human dignity and fundamental human rights.

Regardless of how one feels about Khadr and his terrorist affiliations and deeds, the way this former child combatant was treated was abusive, immoral and, according to various courts, illegal. The offences against him were mostly committed by his American captors, but came with a nod and a wink, to their shame, from Canadian authorities.

He was 15 or 16 when the torture began, a child clearly entitled to protection under a United Nations treaty signed by Canada and the United States that guarantees respect and protection for children up to age 18. The treaty applies to all children, including (or especially) those dragged into war before attaining the moral and mental capacity of adulthood.

When Khadr was jailed at the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison, Canada’s responsibility was to lobby, forcefully if necessary, for his rights. The charges he faced were immaterial. International and Canadian law morally compelled the government to defend Khadr’s human and legal rights. This applies to any Canadian citizen being held and tortured abroad and it seems particularly obvious in a case involving a minor.

But instead of assigning diplomats to argue for Khadr’s care, defend his rights and document his abuse, the government sent interrogators to work alongside his American torturers. In the view of the Supreme Court, Canada was a willing accomplice in denying Khadr his rights. So it was no surprise when he sued and it should be no surprise that, after weighing the undeniable glut of evidence, the government agreed out of court to award Khadr $10.5 million and give him an apology.

Yes, it’s a lot of money to pay a former terrorist convicted for killing an American soldier, even if much of it will go to lawyers. But the settlement is not about what Khadr did. It’s about what his government did to him. More than merely fail him, it violated his human dignity.

Pope Francis addressed this topic recently.

“Human dignity is not lost and forgotten according to specific circumstances or behaviours,” he said. “Human dignity is a fundamental gift belonging to the human person. It is therefore the task of the institutions to protect the human dignity of everyone, without exception.”

The government owes that obligation to every citizen, particularly to minors. It becomes a frightening day when elected officials and their agents elevate political expediency above their moral and legal obligations to defend equally the rights of every citizen. The courts recognized this fundamental truth in their Khadr rulings — and now the taxpayers will pay for it.

Comments (3)

The takeaway is the same as the headline: We failed to defend human rights, dignity. The text of the article is short on facts. Fact is Khadr was not charged until 2007, more than 5 years after being taking capture. Was he a PoW? No. Was he a...

The takeaway is the same as the headline: We failed to defend human rights, dignity. The text of the article is short on facts. Fact is Khadr was not charged until 2007, more than 5 years after being taking capture. Was he a PoW? No. Was he a criminal? No.

You fail to mention how CSIS personnel interrogated him on several occasions, how Obama and the UN wanted him to be repatriated and Harper refused to repatriate him.

Nonetheless, a big thank you for bringing your readers a fresh and unbiased rationale behind the truly reasonable settlement. You might do a piece on his long suffering lawyer Dennis Edney. He deserves a medal. He welcomed this so-called convicted terrorist into his home. Truth be told, I thought it would not end well for Edney but he wasn't attacked by Khadr in the following months. It is then that I looked deeper into this case.

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Utter nonsense. I see the liberal left leaning nonsense that Pope Francis has infected this paper.

We should not, ever, be rewarding a terrorist.

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What a mess! A convoluted mess!!
OK we all understand that... and, so we have paid dearly.
It was not our choice to put him in this situation. It was his own family! (Bill his family!!)
Note! It would likely take 20 lifetimes for the average...

What a mess! A convoluted mess!!
OK we all understand that... and, so we have paid dearly.
It was not our choice to put him in this situation. It was his own family! (Bill his family!!)
Note! It would likely take 20 lifetimes for the average Canadian to earn that kind of money!
Supposing it was your son, and/or a Canadian soldier, he killed. Could you have written this objectively with the same convictions of morality?
What about the Medic, who was killing by Khadr's hand, and the soldier he blinded. Khadr is now 30 years old and had had plenty of time to reflect on what he has done and the pain he has caused others. [Not to mention, the Americans, saved his life.] Perhaps he will consider some of that money [which was way too much] to be given to the soldier who is blind in one eye and to the family of Christopher Spear with a sincere apology. Has Khadr learned anything (?) when his morality is very different than ours?
Our legal system was built on and around our 10 Commandments. Perhaps he has seen the compassion of Christianity and will covert?
Meh, I don't think so...

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