Canada issues formal apology to former Guantánamo prisoner Omar Khadr News
Canada issues formal apology to former Guantánamo prisoner Omar Khadr

The Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale [official profiles] issued a joint statement [text] on Friday apologizing to former Guantánamo detainee Omar Khadr for violating his rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter) [text]. Freeland and Goodale’s statement read:

Today, we are announcing that the Government of Canada has reached a settlement with Mr. Omar Khadr, bringing this civil case to a close. On behalf of the Government of Canada, we wish to apologize to Mr. Khadr for any role Canadian officials may have played in relation to his ordeal abroad and any resulting harm. We hope that this expression, and the negotiated settlement reached with the Government, will assist him in his efforts to begin a new and hopeful chapter in his life with his fellow Canadians. The details of the settlement are confidential between Mr. Khadr and the Government.

The government has refused to confirm the details of the settlement, but various media sources reported that the amount of the settlement [NYT report] was approximately $10.5 million (Canadian). Andrew Scheer [official profile], leader of Canada’s conservative party called the settlement disgusting [NYT report] while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau [official website] stated [Huffington Post report] that the Charter protects all Canadians “even when it is uncomfortable” and added that “When the government violates any Canadian’s Charter rights, we all end up paying for it.” Khadr, now 30, said that he is “really sorry” [NYT report] for the pain he caused, adding that he was “never was angry or upset about” what was done to him.

A severely wounded Khadr was captured by US troops in Afghanistan in 2002 when he was a child soldier at 15 years of age. Khadr is the only Canadian citizen [NYT report] to have been imprisoned at the US military base in Guantánamo Bay. He had pleaded guilty [NYT report] to using a hand grenade against US soldiers Christopher Speer and Layne Morris. Speer died in the incident, while Morris partially lost his eyesight. This apology concerned Khadr’s interrogation by Canadian government officials post his capture. Khadr was transferred to Canada in 2012, and he was released on bail [JURIST report] in May 2015. Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] stated of Khadr’s release [JURIST report] at the time that Canada was taking a “significant step toward ending his ordeal.” The following week, the Supreme Court of Canada [official website] rejected the government’s bid to have Khadr declared an adult offender. In September 2015, Justice June Ross of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta [official website] ruled that Khadr can visit his family [JURIST report] in Toronto for two weeks and do so without an electronic monitoring bracelet.