Canadians will remember the controversy surrounding former Guantanamo Bay detainee, Omar Khadr. Khadr was convicted of war crimes after he allegedly threw a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier.
Some referred to Khadr as a terrorist. Others believe he was a child soldier. Khadr has been at the centre of the debate in this country after the Canadian government paid him $10.5 million for violating his rights under the Charter when he was in Guantanamo Bay.
Khadr’s lawyers have been fighting for more lenient bail conditions. They also have launched an appeal in the U.S. court for his conviction of war crimes. However, there is no telling how long that appeal will take. It is well-known that Omar has been seeking a passport to go on a religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. This request has been previously denied by a Canadian court.
The court will have to weigh multiple factors when determining if Khadr’s request should be granted. On the one hand, there is a reasonable argument that the restrictions placed on Khadr are reasonable considering he is on bail, pending an appeal in the United States.
As it stands, his conviction for killing an American soldier has stood which will be a considerable factor against him. In his favour, he has complied with all his bail conditions to date. At this point, he does not appear to be a danger to the community and public.
The court will likely deny his request on the basis that his convictions have not been overturned, that the conditions placed on him are reasonable, while his appeal in the States is ongoing and that there is still a possibility his conviction will be upheld.
The reasons for my speculation are purely based on the previous rulings in this matter. Unless there is new evidence put before the court to suggest that the current bail conditions are cruel and unusual or causing Khadr undue distress, there is no reason why the current conditions should be lifted.
Unfortunately for Khadr, public opinion will likely not weigh in his favour. There are many Canadians that are frustrated and angry about the amount of money the government paid him, which will likely work against his application for relief.
While I do sympathize with Khadr’s plight, I do believe that it would be most appropriate for the court in this case to at the most defer any decision on Khadr’s bail conditions until which time an American court hears his appeal and renders an appropriate decision.
We cannot ignore the fact that as a direct result of Khadr’s actions, a United States soldier was killed. Until that matter is appropriately addressed by the court, it would be unwise to simply ignore this fact. It is highly unlikely that he will commit such an act again, courts usually and rightfully choose to err on the side of caution.
It will be interesting to see the outcome of this very high-profile case, as I believe it is a first for the Canadian judicial system to have a person who was convicted of a federal offence in a different country.
But, I do not believe this is the last we will hear about Khadr’s legal troubles. Whatever decision is rendered by the court will ultimately anger some no matter the reasons for the decision.