Ottawa to pay $10.5M to Omar Khadr, government source says

Government to apologize to former Guantanamo Bay prisoner for wrongful imprisonment, abuse

CBC News | July 4, 2017

A government source has confirmed to CBC News that Ottawa will apologize and pay millions of dollars in compensation to former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr.

Khadr — who confessed to killing a U.S. army medic when he was 15, under interrogation that was later deemed “oppressive” — will receive a settlement of $10.5 million, the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to CBC late Tuesday.

Details of the deal were first reported earlier Tuesday by unnamed sources who spoke to The Associated Press, the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail.

Khadr, who now lives in an apartment in Edmonton, had been seeking $20 million in a wrongful imprisonment civil suit against Ottawa.

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Human rights groups applaud reports

Human rights groups welcomed the reports.

“For 15 years, Omar Khadr’s case has been a stark reminder of the many ways that an overreaching and unchecked approach to national security readily runs roughshod over universally protected human rights,” said Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada.

Neve said Khadr’s rights were violated or ignored in Afghanistan, at Guantanamo Bay and in Canadian prisons, and that U.S. interrogators, jailers and officials refused to recognize him as a child soldier.

The previous Conservative government offered “inflammatory rhetoric” instead of making an effort to help him, Neve said.

Last month, the NDP wrote a letter to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould urging her to act on an e-petition that said Canada abandoned Khadr to a decade of torture and abuse.

“We recognized that his fundamental rights had been deprived as has been explained by the Supreme Court of Canada and this was really about the treatment he received while he was incarcerated,” the NDP justice critic Alistair MacGregor told CBC.

“It’s fortuitous and maybe a nice coincidence these reports have come out now after we sent that letter.”

The e-petition, which opened March 22 and closes July 20, had more than 2,470 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.

Retired lieutenant-general Roméo Dallaire, founder of the Child Soldiers Initiative, said the apology and compensation is a first step in a long healing process.

“An apology does not absolve Canada for its many years of inaction, but does give it an opportunity to finally lead once again on issues of children,” he said in a statement.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims said it would welcome a “long overdue” apology and compensation.

“It is the right decision in light of the callous and unlawful treatment meted out to Mr. Khadr with the complicity of Canadian officials,” NCCM executive director Ihsaan Gardee said in a news release.

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