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Canada court orders government to remedy Khadr rights breach

The Federal Court of Canada [official website] on Monday ordered the Canadian government [judgment, PDF] to provide Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr [DOD Materials; JURIST news archive] with a list of remedies to ameliorate its breach of his constitutional rights. The court held that Khadr, who is a Canadian citizen, has a right to "procedural fairness and natural justice" under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms [text], and the government has so far failed to take appropriate action to guarantee these rights. The court also ruled that Khadr is entitled to submit additional potential remedies and will provide his list to the government within seven days of their original submission. Judge Russell Zinn, delivering the judgment of the court, held that upon receiving the remedies list, the government must "advance a potential curative remedy as soon thereafter as is reasonably practicable and to continue advancing potential curative remedies until the breach has been cured or all such potential curative remedies have been exhausted." Zinn concluded that he retained jurisdiction to impose a remedy if the government does not implement an effective remedy withing a "reasonably practicable period of time." Khadr has been held at Guantanamo since his 2002 capture by US forces in Afghanistan when he was 15 years old. He is facing murder and terrorism charges [JURIST report] for allegedly throwing a grenade that killed one US soldier and injured another. He has repeatedly denied the accusation.

Khadr sought judicial review from the Federal Court following the Supreme Court's decision in January that Canada would continue to refuse to request his repatriation [JURIST reports] from Guantanamo, even though the judges unanimously agreed that the government had breached Khadr's Charter rights. According to the ruling, Canadian officials questioned Khadr, who was captured at age 15, even though they knew he was being indefinitely detained, and, in March 2004, he was questioned with knowledge that he was subjected to three weeks sleep deprivation by US authorities. In May, a UN official called on the US and Canada to respect international conventions [JURIST report] and release Khadr into Canadian custody. The UN claimed that since Khadr was 15 when he was captured, his detention 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. Khadr's trial before a US military commission is set to begin on August 10 [JURIST report].

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