Posted on 11 June 2008
Ottawa, June 11, 2008 – In a speech to the Senate yesterday evening, the Honourable Yoine Goldstein demanded that the government of Canada immediately begin pressuring the United States’ government to quickly transfer Omar Khadr from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba into Canadian custody.
“At the time that he is alleged to have committed an act of violence against U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Mr. Khadr was fifteen years old and was therefore a child soldier according to international law,” asserted Senator Goldstein. “And international law clearly states that child soldiers should not be tried or prosecuted, but rather rehabilitated and helped to reintegrate into society. That is not my opinion. It is a matter of strict law.”
Senator Goldstein also pointed out that in a recent ruling the Supreme Court described Mr. Khadr’s detention in Afghanistan as “a process that violates Canada’s international obligations.”
“We are also dealing with the special obligation which Canada has to Mr. Khadr because, notwithstanding the fact that this is bothersome to many, he is a Canadian citizen,” the Senator added.
Senator Goldstein’s speech was made in support of a motion put forward by Senator Roméo Dallaire that calls on the Canadian government to begin negotiations to secure the immediate release and rehabilitation of Mr. Khadr. In January 2008, Senator Goldstein joined a large group of international legal scholars, academics and politicians in submitting a brief that urged the U.S. Supreme Court to ensure that Mr. Khadr received the proper protection that is owed to a child soldier.