Frequently Asked Questions About Omar Khadr
1. Isn’t Omar Khadr a convicted terrorist and murderer?
Omar Khadr entered a guilty plea to all charges on October 13, 2010, BUT:
- Guantanamo Bay Military Tribunals are not like any courtroom in Canada or the US. 10
- The accused are not allowed access to all evidence against them.
- Evidence collected by way of coercive interrogation techniques is admissible.
- The accused are not permitted choice of attorney and judge, juror, defense attorneys, and prosecutors are all members of the US military.
- Even with a full acquittal there is no guarantee of release.
- The military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay are widely criticized as being in violation of international law, and often referred to as being kangaroo courts. 11
2. I heard distressing statements attributed to Omar Khadr from the Stipulation of Facts that forms part of the Plea Agreement. Did he really say these things?
- Point 1 in the Stipulation of Facts states: "It is hereby stipulated and agreed, by and between the Prosecution and Defense, with the express consent of the accused, that the following facts are true.” This document does not purport to be written in Omar Khadr’s hand or voice but rather to be a legal document that he consented to.
- The US Government presented the Stipulation of Fact to Omar Khadr as part of the overall plea deal and Omar Khadr agreed to this Stipulation of Fact as detailed in the Offer for Pre-Trial Agreement "I have discussed this decision with my defense counsel and believe it is in my best interest to enter into Attachment A" 12
- At the end of the day the Stipulation of Facts offers one account of Omar Khadr’s life from age 10 to age 15. For many, it reads like a textbook description of the recruitment and refinement of a child soldier. Read it and form your own opinion: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/inside-politics-blog/2010/10/stipulation-of-facts-in-khadr-case.html
3. Khadr was 15 years old. Shouldn’t he have refused to participate in the battle?
- In the five years leading up to his 2002 capture, Omar Khadr lived in rural Afghanistan (11.000 km from his Toronto home) where he was under strict parental authority. His upbringing strongly discouraged challenges to elders.
- Khadr is recognized as a child soldier by the United Nations. 13
4. I’ve seen a horrible photo circulating on the web that claims to show Omar Khadr holding severed hands. Is it legitimate?
- ABSOLUTELY NOT. The origin of this photograph can be traced to the following web link: http://www.rawa.org/handcut3.htm, on the website of an Afghan women’s’ human rights organization. While the photo exists, it is clearly NOT Omar Khadr in the photo. To quote Khadr military lawyer, Jon Jackson, when advised that a Member of Parliament was linking this photograph to Omar Khadr: “I have NEVER seen or heard anything like this. I can assure you that if such a video existed the US government would have used it in their case."