Yesterday, the military judge overseeing the flawed military commission proceedings against Omar Khadr, who has been in U.S. custody since age 15, postponed the start of the trial by a week. The trial is now scheduled to begin Monday, October 25th at Guantánamo.
The delay came amidst reports that negotiations are underway on a possible plea agreement that would avert the trial. There is much speculation in the media about what the terms of the deal might be, and who so far has signed off on it.
While the trial might be coming to an end for Khadr, the obligation of US authorities to ensure remedy and reparation for any human rights violations that have been committed against him does not end here.
Also, the fact that the military commission system falls short of international fair trial standards is not changed by whether a plea deal is reached in Omar Khadr’s case.
Regardless of what happens with Khadr, Amnesty International will continue to call on the US to abandon the unfair and flawed military commissions and bring any Guantánamo detainee it intends to prosecute to trial in ordinary civilian federal court, in accordance with international fair trial standards. Any detainee it does not intend to prosecute should be immediately released.
The trial of Omar Khadr began in August but came to an abrupt halt after his military defense lawyer collapsed on the first day. The trial is flawed because it is not happening in a real court. Omar Khadr has been tortured, threatened with rape, and denied basic legal rights. Yet despite all that, his fate hangs outside a traditional judge and jury and rests with politicians and military personnel.
Amnesty International delegates have attended military commission proceedings conducted at Guantánamo over the years, including in Omar Khadr’s case. If proceedings do go ahead on October 25th, as currently scheduled, we’ll have representation there to observe the proceedings.
Amnesty International members around the world have been and continue to call for the USA to abandon Omar Khadr’s military commission trial and on the Canadian authorities to call for his repatriation. You can join us by taking action here.