You Don't Like the Truth: Canada's Role in the Trial of Omar Khadr
January 13, 2011 :: Dennis Edney
Moderated by Ian McKenna
Omar Khadr was captured by American Forces in July 2002 in Afghanistan following a firefight between Afghani insurgents and US soldiers. Severely wounded by two M-16 bullets in his back, Khadr, who was just 15 at the time, was flown to Bagram airbase where he was treated for his injuries and later subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques” before being transported to the notorious US prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The US government deemed Khadr an “enemy combatant” in 2002 which allowed US military interrogators to use “enhanced techniques” on the teenager that are described by various human rights groups as forms of torture that would otherwise be banned under the Geneva Conventions. Khadr’s “enemy combatant” status also allowed an American military tribunal to prosecute the young Canadian for war crimes despite being defined as a child soldier by the United Nations. Khadr is the only child soldier ever to be tried for war crimes.
Khadr languished in Guantanamo Bay for eight years before pleading guilty to five war crimes charges in October 2010 including murder for allegedly throwing a grenade in the 2002 firefight that killed a US soldier. Khadr’s Canadian lawyer, Dennis Edney, have suggested that the Canadian still maintains his innocence and only agreed to the guilty plea so he could be repatriated to Canada. Despite urgings from the US government and several rulings by Canadian Courts, the Canadian government refused on multiple occasions to seek the repatriation of Khadr to Canada. Canada is the only western nation that did not seek and receive the return of one of its citizens from the Guantanamo Bay prison. In January 2010, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that the failure of the Canadian government to seek Khadr’s return to Canada was a violation of his Charter rights.
Speaker: Dennis Edney
Originally from Dundee, Scotland, Dennis Edney is a Canadian defence lawyer based in Edmonton, Alberta noted for his involvement in many high-profile and complicated cases, including being the defence lawyer for Abdullah and Omar Khadr, who were captured in the War on Terror, and for Fahim Ahmad in the 2010 Toronto terrorism case. Mr. Edney has appeared in all levels of Canadian courts, including landmark Supreme Court cases: Canada (Minister of Justice)v. Khadr 2008 S.C.C. Canada (Prime Minister)v. Khadr 2009 S.C.C. and as well The Queen v. Fahim Ahmad 2010 SCC
Mr. Edney was granted standing to file an amicus brief before the United States Supreme Court, in Rasul v. Bush, 2002. He was also appointed as Foreign Attorney Consultant by the U.S. Pentagon to participate in the Military Commission trial of Omar Khadr, a young Canadian detained in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Dennis Edney received the prestigious 2008 National Pro Bono Award, and is the recipient of the 2009 Human Rights Medal, awarded by the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, for work that has helped promote and further human rights.
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