It’s hard to expect anything serious to happen in Canada these days. The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, is more known for his socks than his policies. However, this past week, the Government of Canada settled a lawsuit with Omar Khadr, awarding him 10.5 million dollars. There’s nothing more serious than millions of dollars – and millions of dollars at the taxpayer’s expense, no less.
Omar Khadr stands accused of killing a US soldier with a grenade during a raid in Afghanistan in 2002, when Khadr was 15 years old. The slain soldier, Sgt. Christopher Speer, was a combat medic, making his murder a war crime according to international law. Omar was taken into custody, moved to US Detention Facility Guantanamo Bay, and ultimately charged with war crimes and murder, to which he pleaded guilty in 2010. Repatriated to Canada in 2012, ten years after the incident, Khadr was set to serve the rest of his eight year sentence “at home” from 2010’s guilty plea.
However, he was released in 2015 pending appeal due to his lawyers’ claims that his admission to US authorities that he was guilty was only made because he was tortured.
Omar Khadr Wasn’t Forced by Canada to Fight
The lawsuit settlement sends the message that Canada is responsible for Omar Khadr’s Charter rights being violated… in Afhganistan… during wartime activities against one of Canada’s allies. From both a legal and logical perspective, this ruling is ridiculous. Omar Khadr was taken to Afghanistan by his father. That action was completely up to the Khadr family; no one (Khadr or others) made any attempt to ask Canadian authorities to intervene. Therefore, Canada had no role to play in preventing it.
As for what happened in Afghanistan – that is a sovereign nation independent of Canada. Canada has no jurisdiction over Canadian citizens in Afghanistan (until they return to Canada) and no requirement nor ability to enforce Canadian laws in foreign nations (especially in a country where no legal infrastructure existed at the time). The fact is US troops say 15-year-old Omar Khadr threw a grenade that killed a friendly coalition soldier. That fact, and all the agreements and alliances between Canada and the US, makes Khadr an enemy combatant and guilty of Treason in Canada.
It is upsetting to many across Canada and the US that Omar Khadr would be allowed to commit a war crime, confess to it, and then be given millions of dollars a decade and some after the fact as some sick attempt at what’s being called compensation. The lawsuit claimed that during Khadr’s imprisonment at Guantanamo, Canada failed to protect Khadr’s Charter rights by not legally intervening on his behalf. I couldn’t be more confused by the nonsense in that argument.
Khadr was in Guantanamo because US forces say they saw him throwing a grenade and killing a friendly soldier. Canada should take that testimony at face value. Canada has no closer ally in the world than the USA and no business intervening in its justice system.
15-year-olds can be charged as adults in Canada, and due to the seriousness of the crimes, it was rightful that Omar Khadr was treated by the US justice system as one. The defense of being under age in this situation is null and void. All 15-year-olds should know not to throw grenades at anyone, let alone soldiers, and any 15-year-old who doesn’t simply doesn’t belong in society.
The response to this incredibly messy situation was bound to upset scores of people no matter what. I personally think it would have been best to do almost anything but give the man money. The US military stands by their claim that Khadr killed one of their own, and that just doesn’t sit right with me. Murder, no matter what happens afterwards, should never be rewarded with millions of dollars. Was it Canada’s job to intervene while Khadr was imprisoned at Guantanamo? Absolutely not. Was it morally wrong for Omar Khadr to sit in Guantanamo for years awaiting a trial? That’s up for debate – but rewarding murder will always be wrong.