Posted May 23, 2008 06:03 pm CDT
A Canadian citizen captured by the U.S. in Afghanistan at age 15 and held at the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has a constitutional right to materials related to interviews conducted there by Canadian officials in 2003, Canada’s highest court decided today.
In what a lawyer for Omar Khadr, now 21, describes as a limited victory, the Supreme Court of Canada ordered government officials to turn over, for an in camera review by a Canadian judge, all documents, records and other materials in their possession that might be relevant to his defense. Privilege claims and other objections apparently may then be made by the government before the materials are turned over to Khadr’s counsel, according to the Globe and Mail.
“Friday morning’s decision is a major triumph for a growing phalanx of Khadr supporters who believe that Canada has washed its hands of complicity in an abusive U.S. military process,” the Canadian newspaper writes.
However, Nathan Whitling, a lawyer who represents Khadr, says the decision doesn’t give his client what he needs most–a U.S. military report about the battle the day Khadr was arrested, which it shared with Canadian authorities but claims to be unable to find, for the purpose of turning it over to the defense.
The American Civil Liberties Union says in a press release that the ruling is also significant because it recognizes that, at the time he was being interrogated, “Khadr was being detained and prosecuted at Guantánamo in violation of U.S. and international law.”
CTV: “Supreme Court ruling a partial win for Omar Khadr”
Canadian Press: “Terror suspect Khadr wins partial access to federal papers for tribunal defence”
Aljazeera: “Canada Guantanamo detainee wins”
ABAJournal.com (May 8): “Military Judge Threatens to Suspend Khadr Terror Trial Over Evidence Issue”