It has been confirmed that Omar Khadr is set to receive a $10.5 million CAD settlement and a formal apology from the Government of Canada in response to a civil suit brought by Khadr over human rights abuses.
Khadr has been a divisive figure in Canada over the last decade. He was arrested on the battlefield after killing an American soldier and blinding another with a grenade. Khadr was 15 at the time, which, his supporters say, mean he should be considered a child soldier under international law. They also say he was brainwashed by his father, an Al Qaeda supporter, and was forced to fight against coalition forces.
During the same time, Khadr was photographed building IEDs for the Taliban.
Khadr was then injured, and treated by U.S. medics. He was brought over to Guantanamo Bay, the controversial U.S. prison where terrorists are held, where he stayed for the next decade. He was tortured at the site, and confessed to committing war crimes.
The confession, his lawyers say, was made under duress and is therefore invalid. Furthermore, the crime for which he was convicted was passed into law after his arrest.
The previous Conservative government in Canada, as the Supreme Court eventually ruled, did not do enough to help Khadr. They agreed with Khadr that the Canadian Government had withheld from him his basic human rights accorded for under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Omar Khadr was the last prisoner in Guantanamo Bay from a Western nation that was not repatriated by his country. He was finally moved to Canada in 2012, and eventually released on bail.
The settlement was first reported by the Globe & Mail, a Canadian newspaper. Opposition poured in almost immediately, especially by the Conservative Party and taxpayers’ associations.
Conservative Public Safety Critic Tony Clement called Khadr “Canada’s next millionaire” before unveiling a petition to stop Trudeau from finalizing the deal.
Many opponents refute Khadr’s innocence in his actions in 2002, and claim that it should be the U.S. who pays the settlement, being responsible for the torture Khadr underwent in Guantanamo Bay.
Others still see the settlement and formal apology as deserved, in order to compensate for what happened to Khadr under the Harper Government.
Khadr had lost a lawsuit tabled by the widow of the soldier he killed, and owes in compensation upwards of $100 million. It is unclear whether or not he is legally liable, however, as the lawsuit was filed in the U.S.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Ireland at the time of the report, and speaking in a joint news conference with newly appointed Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, refused to answer questions, only saying a settlement would “come soon.”
(Image: The Toronto Star)