EDITORIAL – Omar Khadr’s settlement a case of defending human rights

Supreme Court of Canada. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

An Armchair Mayor editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

THOSE EXPRESSING outrage at the $10.5-million settlement between the federal government and Omar Khadr should look more closely at the facts.

Contrary to what some might think or what some editorialists would have us believe, this isn’t a case of the government losing its mind and simply handing over a big paycheque to a confessed terrorist. It’s a settlement of a $20-million lawsuit. (He also reportedly will receive an apology.)

According to the Supreme Court, Khadr’s human rights were violated. Canada takes human rights seriously, and when someone suffers because we fail to protect that person’s human rights, the country and its courts try to make amends.

The Canadian-born Khadr was a child when he allegedly killed an American with a hand grenade, and blinded another in one eye during a firefight in the Afghanistan war in 2002. He was captured and imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, where Canadian interrogators were at least complicit in the use of sleep deprivation to wring a confession out of him.

The confession was then passed along to the U.S. There were a number of other issues, as well, including denial of access to a lawyer. Khadr later recanted his confession.

In 2010, the Supreme Court of Canada found that Khadr’s treatment “offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects.”

It isn’t the first time the Canadian government has made payouts to individuals who suffered due to Canadian involvement in the improper treatment of prisoners. Though the cases are much different, Maher Arar (who lived in Kamloops for a short time after he regained his freedom) was paid $10 million. And there are others.

The $10.5 million reportedly paid to Khadr (it was reported Thursday night the cheque has, indeed, been written) is a lot of money, but how do you measure how much compensation is proper when torture is involved?

We’re so afraid of terrorism these days that we tend to think in terms of generalities and too easily engage in exaggerated rhetoric.  Righteous indignation can’t be allowed to usurp our commitment to human rights.

As the Supreme Court stated it, Khadr was not treated according to “the most basic standards.”

About Mel Rothenburger (5870 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

7 Comments on EDITORIAL – Omar Khadr’s settlement a case of defending human rights

  1. willy ward // July 7, 2017 at 5:30 PM // Reply

    If assholes like Stephen Harper and Tony Clement had any regard for the rights of juvenile Canadians, Omar wouldn’t have been tortured and Canadians could have spent that $10 million somewhere that mattered. He is due the money and the politicians should be too embarrassed to even comment!!

  2. Ben Kuypers // July 7, 2017 at 11:43 AM // Reply

    I always found it contradictory that a soldier (let alone a child soldier) could be charged with a crime for being involved in a war, notwithstanding a war crime. That would make every soldier and their superiors right up the ladder guilty as well. All war is criminal in my eyes, but to charge a child soldier for being involved in a war you have every involvement in creating is absurd and a hypocrisy.

  3. Exactly right Mel. Thank you for clarifying this issue. As General Dalliere has noted, “It is crucial to keep in mind that Omar Khadr is a victim in all of this. Recruited at 13 years old, then shot and taken prisoner two years later, the story of Omar Khadr has been nothing if not infuriating. As a child, Khadr was forced to move to Afghanistan and join al-Qaeda by his father. “

  4. It seems that the majority of online commenters choose to bypass the actual facts of this case, and rely entirely on the US and Harper days rhetoric, surrounding it. You’re absolutely correct Mel, this is about the rule of Canadian law as written, and Supreme Court decisions based on those laws.
    If we reinterpret laws like the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to suit our emotional status regarding a given case, then what we are doing is establishing a 2 tiered system of justice. One for Canadian citizens we call ‘us’, and one for Canadian citizens we do not consider to be ‘us’ … and who falls where, is subjective and decided on the day.
    We can discuss the merits of Khadr’s battlefield case another day. He is actively appealing the US conviction, and one day we will discuss that. Today is about Canadian government wrongdoing, and today’s government responding to a Supreme Court decision. Reading any further into it than that, means nothing less than disrespect for the rule of Canadian law.
    Unfortunately most Canadians commenting online don’t seem to realizing exactly what they are advocating for.

  5. ernie beadle // July 7, 2017 at 8:13 AM // Reply

    this guy was and is a terririst, fought alongside the el quida , killed and Americana soldier . he is guilty and admitted it ,
    maybe he suffered fir his consequences but not near as much as the wife and mother of two children that he left after he murdered that soldier !
    yes the charter is there to guide and protect us but this is absolute crap, and there is no way he derserves to be paid 10 million dollars fir this incident !
    comments like this from you and others are why our country is in so much trouble !
    does he deserve compensation or lifetime jail sentence for murdering a fellow american soldier ?
    maybe you should write an article on that instead of justifying the stupidity
    of this settlement !!!!!

  6. Mel:
    Great piece, Mel. And the “standards” should not be just for “Canadians”…the human experience” knows no borders and Canada should always and foremost stand for what’s right and fair.

    • Bill Ligertwood // July 8, 2017 at 7:07 PM // Reply

      First of all if you’re claiming that he was in fact an actual soldier, then you can’t claim that anyone he killed or injured should be compensated by him. The actual fact that he was a brainwashed child soldier makes it even more absurd to suggest. Thousands of American kids have been killed in combat since the second world war, are they all entitled to sue the soldiers who killed them? Sorry but this argument makes no logical sense what so ever. The facts of the case are what’s important and in this case you’re entitled too your opinion but you are not entitled to your own facts. Facts are Facts.

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