Abdullah Khadr, Canadian citizen.

Canada Must Guarantee Khadr's Safety.

On Saturday, at the request of United States authorities, Toronto resident Abdullah Khadr was arrested under foreign-issued terror related charges. He now sits in a jail-cell, awaiting the possibility of extradition to the United States to face accusations that he helped supply munitions to Al-Qaeda.

Let us ignore for a moment the question of guilt or innocence in relation to Mr Khadr. Surely, there is not a one amongst us who would argue that he should be extradited if he is innocent, or set free if guilty - this then is not the question before us. Rather, we must ask ourselves what guarantees Canada should demand before an extradition hearing even begins.

Despite having a comprehensive extradition treaty with the United States, Canada can, and has in the past refused to extradite prisoners for reasons of conscience, most commonly over concerns regarding the death penalty. To this effect, Canada has generally demanded a guarantee that the accused will not be executed before an extraditioin hearing takes place.

Clearly in this case a guarantee of that nature is not necessary - Khadr's alleged crimes are not capital ones. However, with the proliferation of US secret prisons around the world, and with the known US technique of sending captives already on US soil to third countries to be tortured, Canada needs assurances that these manuevers will not be applied to Khadr.

Yes, Khadr has possibly done a great deal of wrong, but he is still a Canadian. As a Canadian, he is as deserving of government protection to his civil liberties as you or I. A scenario can easily be imagined in which a fearful United States, worried that their interrogation of Khadr is not moving along at a rapid enough pace, decides to send him back to Afghanistan, Eastern Europe, or Syria to be worked over in the hopes of extracting a confession. This cannot be allowed to happen. We need assurances from US officials that Mr Khadr will not be labeled an 'enemy combattant'

Canada must do what is right and just - without a US guarantee that Khadr will remain in a US prison in the continental United States, and without a similar promise that no coersive tactics will be put upon him, Canada must refuse to begin any extradition.

It's the humane thing to do.

Photo courtesy of www.cageprisoners.com


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