The SMUS Justice Action Group was out in the quad this week to collect signatures for a letter they are sending out to Rt. Honourable John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and the Honourable Rob Nicholson, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General. The students drafted the letter to address Canada’s need for a better policy when dealing with cases such as Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen and alleged child soldier who was held in a detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for several years.
We are writing to you today as a group of interested youth who are striving to become more informed, responsible and active citizens. We have been investigating the controversial case of our fellow Canadian, Omar Khadr, with great interest and concern. We are hoping that you can shed some light on how our government plans to address the serious human rights and justice issues that remain unresolved in this case.
As you are surely aware, Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen, is currently incarcerated in an American prison after pleading guilty to various terrorism charges in a special American military court. Khadr was originally apprehended in 2002 as a fifteen-year-old by American forces operating in Afghanistan, and was held for eight years facing a series of charges before being finally convicted and sentenced to serve eight years after a plea-bargain.
As members of the Justice Action Group at St. Michaels University School, an independent school in Victoria, British Columbia, it is our mission to explore and take action in situations where we feel justice is not being done.
In the course of our two-year investigation of the complex and controversial Khadr case, we have sought advice from a range of experts, including a professor of religious conflict from the University of Victoria, a published international negotiations expert, a retired high-level CSIS/Department of Justice official, a Member of Parliament and a renowned constitutional lawyer.