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Pana Merchant

The Hon. Pana  Merchant, B.A. Appointed to the Senate by the Rt. Honourable Jean Chrétien, Senator Pana Merchant represents the province of Saskatchewan and the Senatorial Division of Saskatchewan. She has served in the Senate of Canada since December 12, 2002.

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Status of Omar Khadr

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Statement made on 06 July 2010 by Senator Mobina Jaffer

Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer:

Honourable senators, I rise today to speak about Omar Khadr. Omar Khadr was 15 when he was captured in Afghanistan. He was only a child. He was there, not out of personal choice, but because his father had taken him there. After being captured, he was transferred to the infamous Guantanamo Bay, where he has been imprisoned for eight years. He has grown up in that terrible place and remains there as the last prisoner from the Western world. He is now 23 years old.

Yesterday, Justice Russel Zinn of the Federal Court of Canada gave the government seven days to come up with a list of remedies for its violations of Omar Khadr's rights. In January of this year, the Supreme Court declared that Omar Khadr's constitutional rights had been infringed upon. In response to this declaration, Justice Zinn ruled that Mr. Khadr "is entitled to procedural fairness and natural justice."

After acknowledging the government's wrongdoing, the Supreme Court demanded the government take action to come up with a remedy to right its wrongs. Unfortunately, our government has made little progress on this issue and has stated that Canada must let the U.S. justice process run its course.

Our Supreme Court of Canada has looked at this issue on a number of occasions and has ruled progressively on this matter. However, each and every time, the government has found ways of escaping its responsibilities. The ruling yesterday by Mr. Justice Zinn was yet another example of the courts bending backwards to accommodate our government's inaction.

Mr. Justice Zinn has now given the government one week to propose remedies as to how it will fix Mr. Khadr's violations. Mr. Justice Zinn said that repatriating Mr. Khadr to Canada is "the only alternative remedy I can see that can potentially cure the breach" of his rights.

I rise today to ask all honourable senators to urge our government to do what Mr. Justice Zinn has suggested and to repatriate Mr. Khadr to Canada. This is the proper course of action. As I have done many times before, I urge our government to listen to our Supreme Court and Federal Court judgments, including this most recent one. Honourable senators, let us urge our government to bring Omar Khadr home.


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