Saturday, 15 July 2017

The Omar Khadr Debacle

Omar Khadr was born in Canada in 1986. His family took him to Afghanistan while still a child. While in Afghanistan, Omar was trained as a fighter. 

Eventually Omar was involved in an attack on U.S. troops and was caught. He was accused of lobbing the grenade that killed Christopher Speer of Delta Force, and taken to Guantánamo Bay. Omar was 15.

Omar was detained for 10 years, and is the first person since World War II to be prosecuted in a military commission for war crimes committed while still a minor. 

Colin Perkel/Canadian Press

While in prison, he was questioned by Canadian officials who failed to apply Canadian standards for the treatment of detained youth suspects.

Under a ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada, Khadr was repatriated in 2012 to serve the remainder of his sentence in Canadian custody.

He appealed his conviction, and won an out-of-court settlement of $10 million. Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is under fire for agreeing to the settlement. Defending his decision, Trudeau says: “When governments do not protect their citizens’ rights, everyone ends up paying.”

My question is: Why in the world did those Canadian officials overlook/ignore/whatever, Canadian child protection laws when they got access to Khadr in Guantánamo? That was supremely negligent. 

This mess is their doing, not Omar's -- he was a minor, and he had rights.

But with so many child soldiers out there waging war, it's hard for people to empathize -- the Canadian vets, in particular, who receive minimal disability pensions while being put through the hoops to get the payments, and are not allowed to sue the government for mistreatment, while they are receiving benefits.

It's all confusing, there are as many conflicting points of view as there are people. But I do know one thing:

I'm with the vets.

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