Fed­eral gov­ern­ment apol­o­gizes to Khadr

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA -

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment for­mally apol­o­gized Fri­day to for­mer Guan­tanamo Bay inmate Omar Khadr for any role Cana­dian of­fi­cials may have played in his mis­treat­ment while in U.S. mil­i­tary cus­tody.

The apol­ogy, de­liv­ered in a terse state­ment from Public Safety Min­is­ter Ralph Goodale and For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land, fol­lowed re­ports of a con­tro­ver­sial $10.5-mil­lion set­tle­ment to a long-stand­ing law­suit over vi­o­la­tions of Khadr’s char­ter rights.

“On be­half of the gov­ern­ment of Canada, we wish to apol­o­gize to Mr. Khadr for any role Cana­dian of­fi­cials may have played in re­la­tion to his or­deal abroad and any resulting harm,” the state­ment reads.

“We hope that this ex­pres­sion, and the ne­go­ti­ated set­tle­ment reached with the gov­ern­ment, will as­sist him in his ef­forts to be­gin a new and hope­ful chap­ter in his life with his fel­low Cana­di­ans.”

At a news con­fer­ence on Par­lia­ment Hill, Goodale and Jus­tice Min­is­ter Jody Wil­sonRay­bould drove home the point that the set­tle­ment dealt ex­clu­sively with the fact Khadr’s char­ter rights were vi­o­lated by the pre­vi­ous Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment.

“Reach­ing a set­tle­ment was the only sen­si­ble course,” said Goodale, who ac­knowl­edged that the de­bate about what hap­pened on the bat­tle­field in Afghanistan in 2002 would surely con­tinue.

“In the pur­suit of jus­tice and na­tional se­cu­rity, gov­ern­ments must re­spect hu­man rights and char­ter rights and the rule of law.”

Not set­tling the case would have surely cost Cana­dian tax­pay­ers mil­lions more, he added.

Said Wil­son-Ray­bould: “A Cana­dian cit­i­zen’s char­ter rights wrere vi­o­lated; as a re­sult, the gov­ern­ment of Canada was re­quired to pro­vide a rem­edy.

“I hope Cana­di­ans take two things away from to­day: Our rights are not sub­ject to the whims of the gov­ern­ment of the day, and there are se­ri­ous costs when the gov­ern­ment vi­o­lates the rights of its cit­i­zens.”

The state­ment does not con­firm any pay­ment de­tails, nor me­dia re­ports that the money has al­ready been paid. “The de­tails of the set­tle­ment are con­fi­den­tial be­tween Mr. Khadr and the gov­ern­ment.”

Speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity, a source fa­mil­iar with the sit­u­a­tion told The Cana­dian Press that the gov­ern­ment wanted to get ahead of an at­tempt by two Amer­i­cans to en­force a mas­sive U.S. court award against Khadr in Cana­dian court.

“The money has been paid,” the source said.

Word of the quiet money trans­fer came on the eve of a hear­ing in which a lawyer planned to ask On­tario Su­pe­rior Court to block the pay­out to Khadr, who lives in Ed­mon­ton on bail.

The Toronto lawyer, David Winer, is act­ing for the wi­dow of an Amer­i­can spe­cial forces sol­dier, Chris Speer, who Khadr is al­leged to have killed af­ter a fierce fire­fight and bom­bard­ment by U.S. troops at a com­pound in Afghanistan in July 2002, and an­other U.S. sol­dier, Layne Mor­ris, who was blinded in one eye in the same bat­tle.

Tabitha Speer and Mor­ris two years ago won a US$134.1 mil­lion de­fault judg­ment against Khadr in court in Utah. Khadr was in prison in Canada at the time, af­ter be­ing trans­ferred in 2012 from Guan­tanamo Bay, where he had spent 10 years.

CP PHOTO

Ralph Goodale, Min­is­ter of Public Safety and Emer­gency Pre­pared­ness, and Jody Wil­son-Ray­bould, Min­is­ter of Jus­tice and At­tor­ney Gen­eral of Canada, hold a news con­fer­ence re­gard­ing a $10.5 mil­lon pay­ment to Omar Khadr on Par­lia­ment Hill in Ot­tawa Fri­day.

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