An open con­tempt for Char­ter rights

Cana­dian tax­pay­ers pay­ing for Harper gov­ern­ment’s il­le­gal­i­ties, in­dif­fer­ence, ar­ro­gance

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OPINION - BY RICHARD DEATON Richard Deaton, Ph.D., L.L.B., re­sides in Stan­ley Bridge, and taught Mil­i­tary Ethics and Law at the Royal Mil­i­tary Col­lege(RMC), Kingston.

As ev­i­denced by a num­ber of re­cent let­ters (The Guardian, July 13 and J-P, July 13) there is a tremen­dous amount of in­ac­cu­rate and mis­lead­ing in­for­ma­tion in the pub­lic do­main as it re­lates to the re­cent Khadr set­tle­ment and the for­mal le­gal­i­ties as­so­ci­ated with that case.

The events lead­ing up to that set­tle­ment have been de­con­tex­tu­al­ized and san­i­tized, in­clud­ing the fact that the U.S. was en­gaged in an un­de­clared war in Afghanistan and was uni­lat­er­ally rewrit­ing the Geneva Con­ven­tions, as they saw fit, in terms of the rules of war.

It was the Harper gov­ern­ment which orig­i­nally cre­ated this le­gal and eth­i­cal mess by its open con­tempt for the Char­ter rights of Arab-Cana­di­ans. Had an Amer­i­can or Cana­dian ser­vice­man been sub­jected to the type of sys­tem­atic tor­ture that Omar Kahdr was, con­trary to any of the long stand­ing and ac­cepted Geneva Con­ven­tions, re­gard­less of whether he was a child sol­dier, would have cre­ated a roar of out­rage.

The Geneva Ac­cords clearly for­bid en­emy com­bat­ants from be­ing tor­tured. Sub­se­quently, the U.S. Supreme Court twice de­clared the trial process at Guan­tanamo Bay un­con­sti­tu­tional un­der U.S. law and il­le­gal un­der in­ter­na­tional law.

Cana­dian of­fi­cials were com­plicit in that ren­di­tion and were aware that Khadr was be­ing tor­tured. In short, they were party to it.

Harper ig­nored this sit­u­a­tion for seven years, be­tween 20082015. In turn, the SCC ruled that Kahdr’s rights had been “egre­giously” vi­o­lated. Now Cana­dian tax­pay­ers are pay­ing for the Harper gov­ern­ment’s cal­lous il­le­gal­i­ties, in­dif­fer­ence and ar­ro­gance.

But their be­hav­iour is no dif­fer­ent than the Is­raelis’ to­wards the Pales­tini­ans, in­clud­ing their use of ad­min­is­tra­tive de­ten­tion and col­lec­tive pun­ish­ment.

The Khadr case is not the first in­stance where the Harper gov­ern­ment tram­pled upon the con­sti­tu­tional rights of an Arab-Cana­dian. Ma­her Arar was turned over to the Syr­i­ans in 2002 by the Amer­i­cans, based on faulty in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by the RCMP re­sult­ing in his spe­cial ren­di­tion, that is, tor­ture. Sub­se­quently, he was paid over $10 mil­lion in com­pen­sa­tion by the Harper gov­ern­ment, the same as Khadr later re­ceived. No­body con­demned the Harper gov­ern­ment for pay­ing up. So why blame the vic­tim in this in­stance?

In the in­ter­est of in­formed pub­lic dis­cus­sion the best source deal­ing with the le­gal­i­ties in­volved in the Khadr case, in my opin­ion, is a re­cent CBC ar­ti­cle found at: pol­i­tics/omar-khadr-le­gal-anal­y­sis-aaron-wherry-1.4199409.

The next ma­jor bat­tle over the civil lib­er­ties of an ArabCana­dian is the case of Has­san Diab, a for­mer Univer­sity of Ot­tawa and Car­leton Univer­sity pro­fes­sor, who was ex­tra­dited to France, based on du­bi­ous ev­i­dence, nearly three years ago for al­legedly bomb­ing a Paris sy­n­a­gogue in the 1970s.

He has con­sis­tently de­nied this ac­cu­sa­tion.

Since that time he has lan­guished in a cell; his bail ap­pli­ca­tion has been granted six times and then over­turned at the re­quest of the French gov­ern­ment.

Af­ter 30 months of de­ten­tion he has yet to be brought to trial. Re­cently, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, The Ot­tawa Cit­i­zen, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional, and the Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Univer­sity Teach­ers (CAUT) have all called for Diab’s re­lease and have urged the Trudeau gov­ern­ment to de­mand his re­lease by the French au­thor­i­ties.

Prime Min­is­ter Trudeau has elo­quently spo­ken about the Char­ter rights of Omar Khadr. Now it is time for his gov­ern­ment to step up and de­fend the rights of an­other Arab-Cana­dian, Has­san Diab, against the ju­di­cial farce now be­ing played out in France, where one sus­pects the con­nivance of the Cana­dian and Is­raeli gov­ern­ments.

It is time for him to, again, walk the talk.

If the Trudeau gov­ern­ment re­mains silent and re­fuses to pro­tect the rights of Has­san Diab it may well cost tax­pay­ers an­other $10 mil­lion.


Omar Khadr

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