Document - USA: Military commission proceedings against Omar Khadr resume, as USA disregards its international human rights obligations
Military commission proceedings against Omar Khadr resume, as USA disregards its international human rights obligations
Each year for the past 34 years, the US State Department has published its global report on human rights in other countries. The introduction to its most recent report, published on 11 March 2010, addressed a criticism that has often been levelled against the USA:
“Some critics, in the United States and elsewhere, have challenged our practice of reviewing every other country’s human rights record but not our own. In fact, the US Government reports on and assesses our own human rights record in many other fora pursuant to our treaty obligations (e.g., we file reports on our implementation of the two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention Against Torture).”
Two years ago, the USA appeared in front of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child for that treaty body to examine US compliance with the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, ratified by the USA in 2002. Among other things, the Committee called on the USA to:
“Conduct investigations of accusations against detained children in a prompt and impartial manner, in accordance with minimum fair trial standards. The conduct of criminal proceedings against children within the military justice system should be avoided”.
In direct contradiction of the Committee’s unequivocal recommendation, military commission proceedings are resuming against Omar Khadr in the US Naval Base in Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, where this Canadian national has been held since soon after he turned 16. Omar Khadr was 15 years old when he was taken into US custody in the context of the armed conflict in Afghanistan on 27 July 2002. He is now 23. He has spent a third of his life in US military detention. He is still waiting for justice.
The ‘justice’ that Omar Khadr is in line for is to be prosecuted in military proceedings that fall short of international fair trial standards, and that have no juvenile justice provisions.1If convicted in the military commission proceedings, Omar could face a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, in violation of international law in the cases of those who were under 18 at the time of the alleged crime.
Amnesty International delegates will observe proceedings in Omar Khadr’s case in the coming days at Guantánamo. The organization will continue to call for military commission proceedings against him, and any other Guantánamo detainee, to be abandoned.