By Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. Neve is currently at Guantánamo to observe the military commission trial against detainee Omar Khadr. This is his first post in series from the field.
It seems difficult to believe that after being held here at Guantánamo Bay for close to eight years and having been put through an astonishing array of legal twists and turns – including charges being thrown out at one point and then reinstated – Omar Khadr is about to face trial by military commission, possibly this week if pre-trial proceedings are completed.
I’m here to observe these proceedings on behalf of Amnesty International. And quite honestly at this stage I find it very difficult to predict just what I will observe. All that seems certain is that it will be another phase in the systematic injustice to which Omar Khadr has been subjected.
First, today there will be more legal arguments as to whether all or at least some of the statements Omar Khadr made in the course of over 100 interrogation sessions between 2002 and 2004 – first at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and then here at Guantánamo – will be excluded from the trial. He has laid out detailed and credible allegations as to the many forms of physical and psychological torture and other abuse he says he was subject to at that time, including during many of the interrogation sessions. The prosecution has maintained in its legal filings that “the accused was not tortured; nor subjected to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment”. Yet at a hearing in May, one of Omar Khadr’s interrogators at Bagram admitted to using a rape scenario as a fear tactic against the teenager. And it is clear that at Guantánamo, Omar Khadr was one of the detainees subjected to the sleep disruption/deprivation technique known as the “frequent flyer” program.