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Khadr defense urges federal appeals court to reverse juvenile 'enemy combatant' ruling

[JURIST] Lawyers for Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr [DOD materials; JURIST news archive] have asked the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit to reverse a military Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) determination that their client is an "enemy combatant," arguing that the determination "was inconsistent with the laws of the United States, and inconsistent with the standards and procedures specified by CSRTs by the Secretary of Defense" because the determination was made while Khadr was still a juvenile. The motion for judgment as a matter of law [PDF text], filed Monday, requests that the court either order Khadr's release to his home country of Canada or order a new CSRT to determine on what basis he can still be held. In January, Khadr's lawyers asked the judge presiding over his military commission to dismiss the case [JURIST report], saying that the charges against Khadr violate the Optional Protocol of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child [text], which gives special protection to children under 18 involved in armed conflicts. In Monday's federal court motion, Khadr's defense argued that, under US law, the fact that Khadr was only 15 years old when he allegedly committed the offenses underlying the charges against him means that "he cannot be treated as a valid, consenting 'member' of al-Qaeda, or (indeed) as an 'enemy combatant' at all." The argument is based on the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force [PDF text] and the Optional Protocol, which was ratified by the US in 2002.

In November 2007, UN Special Representative for the Children and Armed Conflict Unit Radhika Coomaraswamy [official profile] warned the US that prosecuting Khadr for alleged war crimes committed while he was a minor could set a dangerous precedent [JURIST report]. Khadr, now 21 but 15 when he was captured, faces life imprisonment after allegedly throwing a grenade that killed one US soldier and wounded another while fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2002. He was charged [charge sheet, PDF; JURIST report] in April 2007 with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism, as well as spying. SCOTUSblog has more.

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