Many Canadians are celebrating the long awaited return of Omar Khadr to Canada, even though it is to a maximum security prison.
It has been 10 long years since Omar Khadr, a Canadian, was seriously injured and captured in a U.S. firefight in Afghanistan.
Accused of throwing a grenade that later ended the life of a U.S. soldier, Omar was 15-years-old and should have been treated as a child soldier according to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Child Soldiers.
Instead, Omar was sent to Guantanamo, subjected to sleep deprivation interrogations and tortured without access to non-military counsel. After eight years of brutal captivity and facing a mock military trial with a likely conviction of another 40 years in a U.S. military prison, Omar Khadr opted for a plea agreement with the U.S.
The agreement required him to confess to several charges against him and accept an additional eight-year sentence. After one more year — in October 2011— he would be eligible for transfer to a Canadian prison.
In the face of our government’s many delays following Omar’s eligibility for transfer to Canada, a Federal Court Action was launched last July.
That pressure, as well as the work of many Canadians over the years and in particular from Amnesty International members all over the world, ultimately contributed to his transfer to Canada at the end of September.
Although Omar Khadr, now 26-years-old, is still in a maximum security prison, his return to Canada is a welcome development for basic justice and there is hope he will one day be a free citizen of this country.