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Amnesty International says “Omar Khadr is believed to be the only child soldier put on trial in modern history.” And now after spending more than a decade in the infamous US detention centre in Guantanamo Bay, the Toronto-born prisoner has been transferred into Canadian custody.
However, the official statement put out by Public Safety Minister Vic Toews reads like a warning to the public about a dangerous offender arriving on Candian soil. He refers to Omar Khadr as a "convicted terrorist" and a "known supporter of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network."
The statement goes into great detail about “murder in violation of law of war” and other crimes Omar Khadr confessed to having committed in Afghanistan in 2002. No mention is made of the torture and ill treatment faced by Khadr in the years preceding his confession, which was made with the understanding that he would be transferred into Canadian custody after serving a year of his eight-year sentence at Guantanamo. Nor is there any mention of the fact that Khadr was 15 years old when those crimes were supposed to have been committed.
Toews states “This transfer occurs following a process initiated by the United States Government and determined in accordance with Canadian law.” Does this mean that Public Safety Minister Vic Toews sees the torture, mistreatment and trial of child soldiers as in accordance with Canadian law?
You can ask Vic Toews that question yourself by emailing him at Toews.V@parl.gc.ca or tweeting him @ToewsVic.
David Bernans is a Québec-based writer and translator. Follow him on twitter @dbernans.