Emerson’s Mistake

David Emerson still doesn’t have a problem with leaving Omar Khadr to American injustice:

The Conservative government has so far refused to attempt to bring Mr. Khadr home, despite increased pressure from myriad human rights, political and legal groups.

Foreign Affairs Minister David Emerson reiterated that position in an interview with CTV’s Question Period this weekend.

“I’ve been tested and baited in the House … to change Canadian policy on a number of consular cases, the Khadr case is one of them,” he said. “But I have discovered that it would be a very stupid, neophyte foreign minister, indeed, that made any assumption that this was a simple matter.”

Even though previous Liberal governments also did not act to bring Mr. Khadr home – indeed, Conservative government officials have repeatedly said their position is no different from the previous government – documents obtained by The Globe and Mail show that, shortly after Mr. Khadr was transferred to Guantanamo Bay in late 2002, the Department of Justice carefully considered the possibility of bringing the Canadian home and prosecuting him under Canadian law.

In a 2003 briefing note obtained by The Globe through an Access to Information request, the Attorney-General of Canada is advised not to comment on the case publicly. However, in the note’s “background” section, officials point out that Canada has extraterritorial jurisdiction to prosecute certain criminal offences, including terrorism offences, alleged to have taken place overseas. But in the case of an individual who is under 18 at the time such offences are alleged to have taken place, the provisions of the Young Offenders Act would also apply.

“If a detainee were transferred to Canada, any decisions regarding the applicable legal proceedings that may be available in respect of the detainee’s conduct outside of Canada would be dependent upon the nature of the evidence available and admissible in a Canadian proceeding to determine if their [sic] was a reasonable prospect of conviction as well as an assessment as to the public interest in proceeding with a prosecution,” the briefing note states.

“Prior to the Attorney-General being called upon to make such determinations, a criminal investigation by domestic police forces would have to be completed.”

Mr. Khadr is expected to appear in a Guantanamo court later this month at a pretrial hearing, where his lawyers will present the three motions to dismiss charges.

So if Khadr was transferred to Canada, there would have to be a decision as to whether he would be tried as a child or an adult, or indeed, whether he should be tried at all, given the tainted evidence against him.  Canada, then, is pleased as punch to let Khadr be tried in a place where no one knows what the hell the law is except that it’s unjust.


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