Saturday, September 29th, 2012
By Baher Azmy
Omar Khadr’s transfer to Canada ends one of the ugliest chapters in the decade-long history of Guantanamo.
Khadr never should have been brought to Guantanamo. He was a child of fifteen at the time he was captured, and his subsequent detention and prosecution for purported war crimes was unlawful, as was his torture by U.S. officials.
Like several other boys held at Guantanamo, some as young as twelve years old, Khadr lost much of his childhood. Canada should not perpetuate the abuse he endured in one of the world’s most notorious prisons. Instead, Canada should release him immediately and provide him with appropriate counseling, education, and assistance in transitioning to a normal life.
Canada should also accept other men from Guantanamo who cannot safely return to their home countries. An ideal candidate is Djamel Ameziane, a citizen of Algeria who fears persecution if he is returned there. Ameziane lived in Canada as a refugee legally from 1995 to 2000, has family living in Quebec, and is sponsored by the Anglican Diocese of Montreal. He has applied for resettlement in Canada under their sponsored refugees program.
President Obama must close Guantanamo. Transferring Khadr is an important step, but he can and must do more. He can begin by releasing the 86 detainees remaining who have been cleared for transfer by the unanimous consent of the CIA, Defense Department, FBI, State Department, and all other relevant agencies.
Baher Azmy is Legal Director for the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.