Court rules Omar Khadr should be transferred to provincial jail

27-year-old should be serving a youth sentence in Canada, says Alberta court

EDMONTON – A lawyer for former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr says an Alberta court ruling ordering his transfer to a provincial jail gives him a new avenue to apply for freedom.

But Khadr’s bid for release could be put on hold.

The Alberta Court of Appeal said in a unanimous decision Tuesday that the 27-year-old should be serving a youth sentence in Canada, and should not be in a federal prison.

Within three hours, the federal government issued a statement saying it plans to appeal the ruling and will apply to delay the transfer while it asks the Supreme Court to hear the case.

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said a youth sentence is not appropriate for someone such as Khadr, who “pleaded guilty to heinous crimes.

“We have vigorously defended against any attempt to lessen his punishment for these crimes,” said Blaney. “That is why the government of Canada will appeal this decision and seek a stay to ensure that he stays in federal prison — where he belongs.”

The Toronto-born Khadr pleaded guilty in 2010 to five war-crimes charges, including murder, for killing an American soldier in Afghanistan when he was 15. Khadr was accused of throwing a grenade that killed Sgt. Christopher Speer during a vicious battle at an Afghan compound in July 2002.

After spending a decade in Guantanamo Bay, Khadr was sentenced by a U.S. military commission to an additional eight years and sent to Canada. He has said since then that he pleaded guilty so he could get out of the Cuban detention camp.

When it sentenced him, the U.S. commission made no distinction between youth and adult punishment or between consecutive and concurrent sentences. When Khadr arrived in Canada in 2012, corrections authorities automatically took him into adult custody.

His lawyers argued that the eight-year term for crimes including murder only make sense as a youth sentence and, although he’s now too old to be in a youth facility, Khadr should at least be in a provincial jail.

Lawyers for the federal government argued that the sentence of a foreign court cannot be changed and that Khadr had been given eight years as a youth for murder and the sentences on four remaining offences were to be served concurrently as an adult.

Last fall, Court of Queen’s Bench Associate Chief Justice John Rooke sided with the federal government and ruled Khadr’s placement in a federal prison was lawful.

The Appeal Court said he was wrong.

“We have concluded that the chambers judge erred in law in finding that Khadr was properly placed in a federal penitentiary under the ITOA (International Transfer of Offenders Act),” the court said. “We conclude that Khadr ought to have been placed in a provincial correctional facility for adults.”

One of Khadr’s lawyers, Nathan Whitling, said if the decision stands and Khadr gets to serve his time as a young offender, his hope for release no longer rests solely with the Parole Board of Canada. “Now he can apply to a youth court judge.”

As a young offender, Khadr would get an annual review for release before a youth judge. Whitling said the judge could order his release and let him serve out his sentence in the community.

Whitling said young-offender status wouldn’t necessarily help Khadr’s case before the parole board. Khadr didn’t apply when he was eligible for parole last year because he was still considered a maximum-security inmate.

Earlier this year, Khadr was reclassified as a medium-security federal inmate and transferred to Bowden Institution in central Alberta from Edmonton Institution. His sentence is to expire on Oct. 30, 2018.

Whitling said he spoke by phone with Khadr after the court decision and, while his client is optimistic about a transfer and eventual application for release, he’s worried he won’t get the chance.

The Alberta government has yet to determine any details of a transfer to provincial custody. The province’s justice minister, Jonathan Denis, said his office supports the federal government’s appeal and request for a stay.

Whitling said his client will ask to be moved to jail in Fort Saskatchewan, northeast of Edmonton, to be closer to his Edmonton lawyers.

One of his other lawyers, Dennis Edney, said it’s important to get Khadr out of federal jurisdiction and “the hands of the Harper government.”

The federal government would “rather pander to politics than apply the rule of law fairly to each and every Canadian citizen,” Edney said.

“This government chose to misinterpret the International Transfer of Offenders Act and place Omar in a maximum security prison, where he spent the first seven months in solitary confinement, instead of treating him as a youth as required under both Canadian and international law.”




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Court rules Omar Khadr should be transferred to provincial jail

  1. Yaaaay … finally the guy gets a break!

  2. Being in jail is a better fate than that provided to the man Khadr murdered, and the wife and kids this murdered solider left behind.

    But keep cheering for Khadr, emily. It just exposes what you are.

    • Except that it’s never been proven that he killed anyone, let alone “murdered”.

      • Lenny….

        You are aware that he confessed right? You are aware that he bragged about it to the other prisoners in GITMO right? Khadr’s proud of what he did…….

        So is his surviving family, who in the words of his sister said on the CBC, “he killed an American soldier…so what?”

        Even his sister admitted he killed the guy.

        • Confessions made under torture and duress are obviously worthless.
          But maybe you think John McCain should be prosecuted for the crimes he “confessed” to in Vietnam?

          • Lenny, the fact you put John McCain and his situation on par with what Khadr went through says a lot.

            McCain….actual soldier in a war. Captured unharmed, and tortured for propoganda purposes. I believe you’ve used John McCain’s experience in the past, and I mentioned why his teeth look the way they do.

            Khadr – an admitted, and unrepentent jihadist who bragged about his exploits while in GITMO. There is film of him making roadside bombs…..the same kind of bombs that killed a lot of Canadian soldiers on duty in Afghanistan.

            Khadr is guilty as sin….and he’s proud to admit it. What will be interesting to watch however, is when Justin Trudeau spouts off about Khadr’s human rights once Khadr (and his lawyer) sue the Crown for millions.

            I expect you would approve of this vermin getting paid for making bombs to kill Canadian soldiers.

          • If any of that were true there would have been no need to torture a confession out of him.
            But you’re right about the millions he’ll be pocketing, and it’ll all be coming out of our pockets thanks to Stephen Harper.

          • Lenny……

            who was Prime Minister when Khadr was captured?

            Who was prime Minister when Khadr was returned to Canada?

      • There’s no doubt the Liberal government’s actions will contribute towards the settlement that Khadr is going to get, though more of those actions occurred under Martin than Chretien.

        • This would be the ONE case where most average Canadians would side with any government in the use of the Notwithstanding clause.

          Any court that rules in favour of a huge payout to Khadr…..would soon lose all credibility in the eyes of the public. as would any opposition leaders who took Khadr’s side.

          Hmmm…maybe that is the plan.

          • I have no doubt that you would have no problem with a government, having been found in a court of law to have violated the law, simply declares itself above the law, but don’t pretend to speak for “most average Canadians”.

        • And yet,

          You seem to hold Harper responsible.

          interesting.

          • And yet, I’ve named two culpable parties.
            Does that not compute in the simplistic world of the binary conservative mind?

      • Emily,

        I’m an athiest….remember? Heaven is not a concern of mine. Nor is hell.

        as for lying……sorry, everything I wrote is true, and I think you know it.

        You’re just another deluded “Khadr fan” who will no doubt be voting Liberal, because you want to know why someone feels so excluded from society….they take up jihad.

        That is trudeaus line by the way….

      • Dear Macleans admin folks.

        while I understand there may be some legal issues that force you to remove some comments, I had the opportunity to read Emily’s comment before you deleted it. She called me a liar.

        I’m ok with that. No feelings were hurt, so please don’t feel the need to remove comments directed my way. I have a pretty thick skin.

        I don’t really get ticked off when someone attacks me on an online forum….par for the course.

        What DOES tick me off however, is having some faceless censor decide what I can, or cannot read.

        Here’s a better idea. Why not include the caveat on your website, that some readers may find some comments offensive, inflammatory, or liable to cause “hurt feelings”.

        If folks don’t want to be subjected to any of these things…they are free to look elsewhere for content.

        • Maclean’s decides every day what you can and can not read on their website.
          But, if you’re truly concerned with censorship, I suggest you address yourself to the PMO which decides what you can and can not read and hear from the scientists, public servants and departments of a government that is paid for and belongs to, all of us.

          • Lenny,

            I don’t believe in censorship of any kind….no matter how offensive.

            As for the Government censoring scientists, sorry….not the case. It is understandable that any Government wants to see any work published, as it needs to be vetted for accuracy. As we have seen….many of our “scientists” stopped doing real science a long time ago. Many of them are simply activists with an agenda.

            nothing should be published until the veracity can be proven.

          • Uh, no.
            Scientists are being prevented from talking about their published work.

            But sure, scientists are simply activists, while politicians and political operatives are honest brokers, protecting our sensitive ears from hearing things we shouldn’t.

            But seriously, why not just embrace your love of censorship instead of pretending otherwise? It’ll save you making such ridiculous fact-free assertions.

  3. Omar Khadr is believed to be the only child soldier put on trial in modern history. Canadian Courts and UN experts have repeatedly called on the government to provide a remedy for the human rights violations in this case, including torture and ill-treatment

    Amnesty International believes that no one under 18 years old should ever have been transferred to Guantánamo, and that no Guantánamo detainee, let alone one who was a child at the time of his alleged crime, should be subject to a military commission trial. In 2010, the United Nations Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict expressed concern that the trial will set a dangerous precedent for child soldiers worldwide: “juvenile justice standards are clear — children should not be tried before military tribunals.” These feelings have been echoed for years by NGOs, academics and other international experts including the International Committee of the Red Cross.

    • Nizar wrote:
      “Omar Khadr is believed to be the only child soldier put on trial in modern history”

      sorry Nizzie……there was nothing soldierly about khadr. He was, is, and remains a terrorist infected with jihadi tendencies. That is due to his upbringing, in a terrorist family. He in no way qualifies as a child soldier. He was young, but he is still a terrorist.
      My grandfather was a “child soldier” in that he was a teenager fighting during the first world war, in uniform, for a country. He did not target innocents, and glory in bloodshed. Islamacists do that….not soldiers.

      you also noted: “Amnesty International believes that no one under 18 years old should ever have been transferred to Guantánamo”

      Who gives a flying fig what this lefty, anti-semitic organzation says? I certainly don’t…and neither do most people who aren’t screaming lefties.

      As for the UN, the Red Cross…or other NGO’s…same applies.

      Khadr is a terrorist, and the yanks should not have applied life saving medical help after the battle. They should have left him there to rot with the rest of the vermin.

      • “Terrorist” apparently now being anyone fighting in a war who’s not on your side.

        • Lenny, the fact you do not know what a terrorist is goes a long way to explain why you sympathize with Omar Khadr.

          Tell us……since Khadr is apparently on YOUR side (or vice versa)….what do you call him?

          • I know very well what a terrorist is – someone who commits violence acts against non-combatants in order to create fear and advance their aims.

            “since Khadr is apparently on YOUR side ”

            Are you even capable of making a comment that isn’t either in bad faith or an outright falsehood?

          • Lenny,

            I’m not the one coming to the defence of an avowed, and admitted terrorist with an actual body count.

            you are.

          • Well played. Non-sequitur, falsehood and bad faith all packed into two scant sentences. It certainly answers the question.
            Wise choice not to even attempt a response to my comment, though.

          • I did answer,

            You just didn’t like the answer.

          • No, you didn’t even attempt to defend your “terrorist” assertion.
            Nevermind that you keep pretending that a confession produced under torture and duress has any legitimacy.
            But while we’re pretending that you oppose censorship “no matter how offensive”, why don’t you tell us why the Conservative government won’t allow us to hear what Khadr has to say? Since he’s so “proud to admit” what he did, it would put that question to rest, wouldn’t it?

            BTW, guess who else’s “side” I’m on?
            Serial killer, Clifford Olson.
            Can you believe that I actually supported his right to a trial and due process under the law? I didn’t even call for him to be tortured into confession.

    • You get those kids off yer lawn yet?

      • Emily,

        If the kids you refer to were planting anti-tank mines on his lawn…..I would hope he did something to remove them.

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