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Canada lawyers urge PM to work for Omar Khadr release from Guantanamo Bay

[JURIST] The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) [official website] on Sunday urged Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to "negotiate" with the US government for the immediate release of Canadian Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr [TrialWatch Profile; JURIST news archive]. In a letter [PDF text] to Harper, CBA President J. Parker MacCarthy reiterated the CBA's position that detention at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] contradicts the rule of law [press release] because "individuals cannot be detained indefinitely without being charged or denied the right to private communications with their lawyers." The CBA said it is "not enough to accept assurances from the US government that 'due' process is being followed," but instead urged immediate action from the Canadian government. The group also said that Canada is obligated to act under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Combat [text] because Khadr was only 15 years old when he was detained in 2002.

Khadr was detained after allegedly throwing a grenade that killed one US soldier and wounded another while fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan. He was formally charged [charge sheet, PDF; JURIST report] with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism, as well as spying in April. Those charges were dismissed [order, PDF; JURIST report] by a military commission judge in June because a Combatant Status Tribunal did not declare Khadr to be an "unlawful enemy combatant" as mandated under the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) [PDF text]. Military prosecutors are currently appealing the dismissal of the charges [JURIST report]. AFP has more.

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