Give Omar Khadr His Chance at Justice

September 30, 2010

By Njambi Good, Counter Terror with Justice Campaign Director

The U.S. Constitutional amendment protecting everyone’s right to a fair trial is under attack.

On October 18, the desperately flawed trial of Omar Khadr, the young Canadian man who has been in U.S. custody since age 15, is scheduled to resume – lack of transparency, fairness, credibility and all.

The trial is flawed because it is not happening in a real court. Omar Khadr has been tortured, threatened with rape, and denied basic legal rights. Yet despite all that, his fate now hangs outside a traditional judge and jury, but rests with politicians and military personnel.

But three decision-makers, responsible for guiding policies from three different federal offices – the Department of State, Department of Justice and Department of Defense – have the power to steer this runaway trial back on course.

They can be the ones who rise above the noise and send this powerful reminder:

In this country, when a person is suspected of doing something that violates the law, no matter how heinous the alleged act, they are entitled to a fair trial in a U.S. federal court.

We do not create new systems of justice to match the crime or to secure a conviction.

That’s why we’re asking you to join us in calling on these three officials to stop this trial before it starts on October 18: Harold Koh – Legal Adviser for Department of State, David Kris – US Assistant Attorney General for National Security and Jeh Johnson – General Counsel in the Department of Defense.

The fight against torture and terrorism can also be won in the courtroom, but it begins right here. Right now.