Friday, August 14, 2009

Appeals court: Free Khadr

The Federal Court of Appeal has ruled the Canadian government has an obligation to demand the return of Omar Khadr, a Canadian national currently on "trial" at Gitmo. But given the 2-1 split on the vote it may give the Conservatives an automatic right of appeal to the Supreme Court.

It would be better to politely ask for Khadr's return to Canada than to extend the charade. That does not mean he should get a free pass. He should be put on trial in Canada -- a real trial --before a jury of his peers for his alleged terrorist acts, and face the consequences including possible imprisonment if convicted.
The Crown Prerogative on foreign affairs is not an absolute one. While Canadians certainly have to respect the law while travelling overseas, there is a case to be made where one is in an area where there are no laws at all and the rules of war ought to apply. Khadr's captivity was totally unnecessary and his extradition back to Canada should have been demanded when the Liberals were in power. Gitmo and the conditions therein constitute anything beyond what plausibly could be called "fundamental justice" and for Canadian officials to take advantage of Khadr was inexcusable.

That the so-called War on Terror is a different kind of war is self-evident. But just because terrorists or those accused of terrorism play by their own rules doesn't give nation states the right to make up their own.

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