A UN official on Thursday urged the US and Canada to respect international convention [UN News Centre report] and release Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr [DOD materials; JURIST news archive] into Canadian custody. UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy [official profile] said that releasing Khadr, a Canadian citizen who has been held at Guantanamo Bay since his 2002 capture by US forces in Afghanistan when he was 15 years old, would fall in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child [official website], which has been ratified by Canada, but not the US. Coomaraswamy also called for the governments to follow the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child [text, PDF], which encourages countries to release children detained in violation of the treaty and take control of the "physical and psychological recovery" of the children and "their social reintegration." The convention has been ratified by 193 nations since 1989, making it the world's most widely ratified human rights treaty.
Last week, Khadr refused to attend preliminary hearings relating to his pending murder and terrorism charges [JURIST reports], claiming he was being mistreated by military guards. The hearings were being held in order to determine if statements made by Khadr during his interrogation should be suppressed [JURIST report]. They were to be the last preliminary hearings before his US military commission [JURIST news archive] trial in July. Khadr's lawyers filed an emergency motion [JURIST report] in February in the Federal Court of Canada [official website] challenging the decision of the Canadian government not to seek his repatriation from the US [JURIST report]. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled [JURIST report] in January that the government was not obligated to seek Khadr's return to Canada despite having violated his rights under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms [text].