Detained and Abandoned: The case of Omar Khadr
When President George W. Bush declared war on Afghanistan in 2001, his military order stipulated that captives should “be detained, and, when tried, to be tried for violations of the laws of war and other applicable laws by military tribunals.” These tribunals would later come to be known as military commissions. Thus began the saga of Omar Khadr’s detention.
Khadr, a Canadian citizen, was severely wounded in a firefight in Afghanistan, on 27 July 2002 . Khadr, the only survivor of the raid, was captured and transferred to the US Air Base in Bagram, Afghanistan, where he was held for three months. In October 2002, he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where his trial by military commission is now about to begin after nearly eight years of indefinite detention.
Khadr was held incommunicado at Guantanamo Bay for two years. In 2004, he was defined as an “enemy combatant” by the Combatant Status Review Board. He was first charged in 2005, three years after his detention, in acordance with President Bush’s military order establishing military commissions. Khadr was accused of murdering Sgt.CHristopher Speer, a US soldier who died in the firefight, in violation of the law of war, and was also charged with attempted murder in violation of the law of war, conspiracy, providing material support for terrorism and spying.
This two-part series explores the judicial issues brought forth by the various forms of military commissions created by the Bush and Obama administration, contextualizes them within international law and discusses the legalities of the charges against Khar in part one.
Part two, set to air 29 September, deals with the moral, legal and psychological implications of Khadr’s age and scrutinizes the Canadian government’s involvement in his detention.