Monday, October 1, 2012

Khadr: Back in the Great White North

Omar Khadr returned to Canada this past weekend to serve out the remainder of his sentence at Guantanamo Bay.   Unlike the "military commission" which gave Khadr no credit for time served on the eight year sentence he received for manslaughter, the "two for one" rule in effect in Canada at the time looks like it will be applied here which means he could be out of jail by next summer.    There is no excuse for what he did.   But the way he was treated violated most principles of international law.

Some Canadians have said that he should not be allowed to return here at all even if his sentence was served out in Cuba.    Also, says such people, his mother and sister should be kicked out of Canada for their radical views -- no the least of which included that Muslims who died on 9/11 deserved to die because their taxes supported what they (the mother and sister) consider the suppression of other Muslims in the Arab world.

Both arguments about exclusion and expulsion fall flat on their faces by law. First, Section 6 of the Charter which guarantees residency rights for Canadians and landed immigrants.   This right exists with very few exceptions, one being extradition (and even there one a sentence is served there would be a right of return).   And even if that constitutional right wasn't there I still wouldn't be so harsh as the anti-Khadr camp.

Second, the Section 2 rights of freedom of speech are near absolute but for the yelling fire principle.   There is a bit of a ring of truth to the West's support of dictatorships in the Middle East -- and now that there's a rapid move to democracy the push back should not come as much of a surprise.

Khadr should have been allowed to return to Canada much sooner than he was.  Three reasons.
  1. He was only 15 at the time, technically a child soldier which by itself is illegal under international law.
  2. While he did kill a US medic in the course of battle in Afghanistan, it's by no means clear whether the act was premeditated.
  3. The vast majority of offenders deserve a second chance.   It's not like Khadr is a pedophile.

I have to say that Khadr's return now is a bit of a surprise, given that PMS and Co seemed all too willing to let the guy rot.   What happened in the last few days, who knows.   But at least we can finally move on.

Well not quite -- even the now democratic but still very corrupt Afghanistan still refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist.   For both of these reasons, NATO's war looks like it was a mostly pointless exercise.   9/11 had to be responded to but the resulting reaction was overkill.   Khadr may never have been in the situation he got into if the war was limited to what absolutely needed to be done and no more.   That's as much a tragedy as what led to his arrest.

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