[JURIST] Justice June Ross of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta [official website] on Friday ruled that former Guantanamo Bay inmate Omar Khadr could visit his family in Toronto for two weeks and do so without an electronic monitoring bracelet. Born in Toronto, Khadr was captured in Afghanistan in 2002 following a firefight with American soldiers. At age 15, Khadr became the youngest prisoner and only Westerner at Guantanamo. Khadr pleaded guilty to several war crimes, including the killing of US Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer. Sentenced to another eight years imprisonment, Khadr was transferred to Canada in 2012, and he was released on bail in May. Since then, Ross has adjusted his bail, extending his curfew so that he can attend prayer and night classes and lifting a requirement that he speak in only English to most of his family members. As it stands, Khadr is required to stay in Edney, may visit Alberta with permission of his bail supervisor, need not wear an electronic tracking bracelet, and may visit his family in Toronto if accompanied by a lawyer.
Guantanamo Bay prison [JURIST backgrounder] continues to be a topic of controversy in the United States. In May Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that by releasing Omar Khadr on bail [JURIST report], Canada was taking a “significant step toward ending his ordeal.” The HRW urged the Canadian government to rehabilitate Khadr and assist his integration into society. In April a US government source revealed that Shaker Aamer, a Saudi citizen and former UK resident detained at Guantanamo Bay, is expected to be released [JURIST report] in June after recent calls from the UK government. In February the US Department of Defense overturned a rule [JURIST report] that sought to speed up the litigation process of military commission prosecutions by requiring judges to relocate to Guantanamo.