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Well, this was rather unexpected and big news this morning. This is a front page story in the Toronto Star, Canada's foremost liberal newspaper with the biggest subscription across the country.  As you might know, Omar Khadr is the last remaining Westerner to be held in Guantanamo. He has been held there since 15, without charge or trial - for 6 years. Khadr's lawyers are already going to be arguing this week in court whether or not they are allowed to gather evidence from the government of Canada that could help in his defence at Guantanamo, and whether or not Canadian officials who travelled to the base to interrogate him in 2003 and 2004 breached his constitutional rights.

However, the Supreme Court has gone even father then that: they have agreed to hear arguments on whether or not Gitmo is legal under international law:

The high court ruled yesterday that it could consider submissions on whether Guantanamo violates international law, dismissing the federal government's objections that the Canadian courts were not the place to examine the actions of the United States...in hearing arguments about whether Khadr's rights were violated in Guantanamo, the court agreed in its unanimous ruling yesterday that it could consider the actions of American officials and the conditions at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba, which in essence also puts Guantanamo Bay on trial..The court also rejected the government's bid to block human rights groups from raising points of international law in their intervention in the case.

The ruling Conservative Party which is the government right now, has long been accused as being complicit with American authorities over Khadr's fate. While every other Western nation has negotiated with the US to repatriate their citizens who were imprisoned at Gitmo to be sent home, the current government has refused to do so, repeatedly saying they have been assured by the US that Khadr's right's are being respected and that due process will take place. This view is increasingly being criticized by Canadians, who while leery of the Khadr family's reputation (the father was killed in Afghanistan and was an Al Quada member) even they realize that a Canadian citizen has been denied due process and a way of defending himself.  

If the Supreme Court of Canada were to rule that Gitmo violates international law, the Conservative government would be forced to defend its actions and reasons for its stance on Gitmo:

"Certainly, what the Supreme Court of Canada says about the legality of Guantanamo Bay and the actions of Canadian officials with respect to a citizen there, will reverberate in the political sphere in terms of bringing greater attention to, and a requirement of justification by the government of Canada about why it refuses to intervene," Macklin said.

The US Government may not give a hoot about whether the Supreme Court of Canada rules Gitmo and its process are illegal under international law, but it will have big reverberations here. Who knows, perhaps it will reverberate elsewhere too

Originally posted to tribe34 on Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 09:40 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar: (28+ / 0-)

    ..for at least 1 Supreme court agreeing to rule on due process and constitutional rights of citizens. They havent been swayed by the government so far "to mind their own business", so I'm hopeful that is a precursor for a favourable ruling on human and constitutional rights and due process.

  •  Well, well, well ... take that Harper! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sagesource, dazedandconfuzed

    Something interesting to watch in the SCC. Thanks for giving us a diary on this.  

    If I have caused confusion and panic, my work here is done.

    by Dorey on Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 09:59:25 AM PDT

  •  Recommended (3+ / 0-)

    Thanks for posting on this important story.  Our media don't want The Rule of Law to be an issue.

  •  Have to be proud of our neighbors to the North (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dazedandconfuzed, bushondrugs

    They refused to go along with W’s illegal war in Iraq, and they have given the UN Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights.

    He that uses many words for explaining any subject, doth, like the cuttlefish, hide himself for the most part in his own ink. - John Ray

    by English Professor on Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 10:27:55 AM PDT

  •  First Afghanistan, then Iraq, now Canada? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Canadian Reader, bushondrugs

    With a threatening move like this, issuing Opinions of Mass Disagreement (OMDs), Canada looks awfully scary.

    I don't know whether our military can stand being stretched that far.  Sounds like a tough job to cow them, even for Blackwater.

    Or maybe I shouldn't be so pessimistic.  Surely the people of Canada will be dropping bottles of Molson at the feet of our troops!

    You can't reason someone out of something they weren't reasoned into. - Jonathan Swift

    by A Mad Mad World on Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 10:29:18 AM PDT

  •  Scott (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hazey, bushondrugs

    I'm sorry this important story disappeared so fast.

    It is exactly these cases with unsympathetic characters such as the Khadr family that test our belief in the rule of law.

  •  Canada: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bushondrugs

    abundant fresh water
    national health
    Loonie > US$

    pretty soon we might have to start caring what those funny 51st-staters think about us after all.

    "I made the wrong mistakes" --Thelonious Monk

    by theloniously on Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 09:26:49 PM PDT

  •  Gitmo is loaded with persons (0+ / 0-)

    brought in by bounty hunters, not captured on battlefields. Some of them were goatherders 14, 15 84,85 years old. Many of those originally from Afghanistan have been repatriated after years of trying by the US Army found absolutely nothing to charge many of them with. Over half the original inmates, in fact, with no charges.

     Other countries have demanded their citizens get a trial or get released. Even Australia took back one like David Hicks.

    Only Canada, with its recent Conservative government has turned around and ignored the rule of law accepting Bush's blitherings. Stephen Harper who plays Monica to Bush's reprise (and very poor one) of a cheerful Clinton is  getting embarrassed in public by a determined Supreme Court.

     If Harper had insisted on rights being observed, like even Australia's Howard and  many Mid Eastern rulers did of Bush, this case wouldn't be the deplorable dereliction of duty towards one's citizens it is in Canada. Those other leaders freed many persons by insisting Bush observe basic rights or lose cooperation in other areas. He did, on a unilateral 1 to 1 basis with them.

    With Harper: the stain isn't on his dress but on his defense of elementary basic human rights.

    He is a hypocrite and a toadie and everybody knows it. Now it will be a public shaming on why Canada accepts outrages so as to please Bush.

    Canadians are about to show some self respect. It might even encourage those daring to do the same right in the belly of the beast.

    www no slaves.com, The Economic Populist. Ignorance is Blitz, not Bliss

    by Pete Rock on Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 10:19:45 PM PDT

  •  The US government will most definitely care. (0+ / 0-)

    A ruling like that could have all sorts of unpleasant consequences for them, and produce ripple effects elsewhere.  My prediction: Mr. Khadr will be released before the Supreme Court rules, in an effort to moot and end the case.

    -7.75, -7.64 www.politicalcompass.org "When the intellectual history of this era is finally written, it will scarcely be believable." -- Noam Chomsky

    by scorponic on Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 11:50:07 PM PDT

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