Canada

Trudeau Defends Canada’s Settlement With Former Guantanamo Detainee

7/8/17
from The Wall Street Journal,
7/8/17:

Canadian officials had interviewed Omar Khadr while he was in custody, and Canada’s top court ruled in 2010 that his rights were infringed.

Canada on Friday announced a formal settlement with Omar Khadr, a Canadian held by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay for over a decade, as the government here attempts to bring closure to a case that fueled a bitter debate on how to handle national security threats. Canada’s Liberal government said in a statement it wished to “apologize to Mr. Khadr for any role Canadian officials may have played in relation to his ordeal abroad and any resulting harm.” Other settlement details, such as a payment for damages, were not publicly disclosed Friday. A person familiar with the details said the payment was about 10 million Canadian dollars ($7.75 million).

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended the apology and financial compensation his government issued to Omar Khadr, saying Saturday they were the price for violating Mr. Khadr’s constitutional rights while he was held at Guantanamo Bay for over a decade. Canada’s constitution “protects all Canadians, even when it’s uncomfortable,” Mr. Trudeau told reporters at the end of the Group of 20 leaders’ summit in Hamburg, Germany. “This is not about the details or the merits of the Khadr case. When the government violates any Canadians’ [constitutional] rights, we all end up paying for it.” Negative reaction to the formal settlement unveiled Friday has been swift, with former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper weighing in, saying the deal is “simply wrong.” The formal settlement with Mr. Khadr, a Canadian held by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay for over a decade following the death of a U.S. Army medic, marked an attempt to bring closure to a case that fueled a bitter debate on how to handle national security threats. Canada’s Liberal government said it wished to “apologize to Mr. Khadr for any role Canadian officials may have played in relation to his ordeal abroad and any resulting harm.” Settlement details, such as a payment for damages, weren’t publicly disclosed. A person familiar with the details said the payment was about 10 million Canadian dollars ($7.75 million). The settlement brings an end to a drawn-out lawsuit Mr. Khadr’s lawyers launched against the Canadian government. It sought C$20 million in damages over his detention in Guantanamo Bay and what it claimed were a violation of his constitutional rights by Canadian officials, who interviewed Mr. Khadr while he was in custody. Canada’s top court ruled in 2010 that Mr. Khadr’s rights under Canada’s Charter of Rights were infringed. Mr. Khadr, now 30 years old, was born in Canada and later brought to Afghanistan, where at age 15 he was captured by the U.S. Army in July 2002 and transferred to Guantanamo Bay. In October 2010, he pleaded guilty to a series of charges including murder, attempted murder, providing support for terrorism and spying. He came to Canada years later to serve the remainder of his eight-year sentence. He was released on bail in 2015, and has lived in western Canada since. In the face of intense criticism, the Canadian government late Friday said its decision to settle wasn’t an attempt to thwart legal action by the family of Chris Speer, the U.S. combat medic who died in 2002, and Layne Morris, blinded in a 2002 battle. Their lawyer filed a notice with a Canadian court to stop Mr. Khadr from receiving any financial reward from the federal government in the event of a settlement. “For anyone to suggest that a payment was rushed to avoid the Speers’ legal claim is wrong and offensive,” the government said. Attempts to reach the lawyer for the Speer and Morris families haven’t been successful The leader of Canada’s Conservative Party, Andrew Scheer, said Friday the apology and financial payout “was disgusting,” referring to Mr. Khadr during a press conference as a convicted terrorist.

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