News that Omar Khadr pleaded guilty this morning to war-crimes charges before a U.S. military tribunal comes with reports that, after serving another year in Guantanamo Bay, he will be allowed to apply to spend the rest of an eight-year term in a Canadian prison.
There are many questions left to be answered about the details of the plea bargain and the stance of the Canadian government on this disturbing case. But here’s one that springs to mind: Under what treaty would Khadr be repatriated to serve out a sentence in Canada?
I just looked up the “Treaty between Canada and the United States of America on the execution of penal sentences.” It stipulates the circumstances when Canadians convicted of crimes in the U.S. can apply to serve time in Canada (and vice versa). Article II of the treaty specifies that it does not apply if the offence is “solely against the military laws of a Party.”
It seems to me the whole point of setting up the dubious tribunals system at Guantanamo was to make sure Khadr, and others held at the camp, were tried in some sort of military judicial setting, and not in a regular U.S. court changed with criminal offences. So this particular treaty, which applies specifically to criminal convictions and expressly not to military ones, doesn’t seem to cover his case.
Any lawyers out there who can point to another treaty that does apply, or who can show how this one might be interpreted in such as way that it might be sufficient to allow for Khadr’s return?