Posted on 19 June 2008
Ottawa, June 19, 2008 – Last night, the Senate adopted Senator Roméo Dallaire’s motion calling on the Government of Canada to negotiate with the United States the immediate repatriation of Canadian citizen and former child soldier, Omar Khadr, currently detained in Guantánamo Bay.
The motion introduced on May 1, 2008 by the Senator and retired General urges the Government of Canada to take all the necessary steps to ensure the repatriation and rehabilitation of Omar Khadr, pursuant to Canada’s international obligations regarding the rights of children in armed conflict, including the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict.
“As one of Canada’s representative and legislative chambers, the Senate is sending a clear message to our Government: bring Omar Khadr home now,” stated Senator Dallaire.
“I am very proud of my Senate colleagues for having taken the principled position that the Government of Canada simply can no longer acquiesce while one of its own citizens becomes the first child soldier ever to be tried for war crimes. It is clear that repatriation is the only option that will ensure that Omar Khadr’s rights are protected,” added Senator Dallaire.
Canada has long demonstrated a principled position with respect to the rights of children on the international stage. Canada was among the first to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict in July 2000.
Omar Khadr, who was 15 years old at the time of his capture, is the only citizen of a Western country still being held at Guantánamo. Beyond Omar Khadr’s case, Canada’s inaction has profound international ramifications for the 300,000 child soldiers used in conflicts around the world. The UN Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, warned Khadr’s prosecution sets a hazardous precedent in international law, which will endanger child soldiers in conflict zones.
“Canada’s inaction in the Khadr case compromises our reputation as a conscientious defender of human rights and justice at home and abroad,” concluded Senator Dallaire.