The UN Committee Against Torture recently recommended that Omar Khadr receive redress for any human rights violations he may have experienced during his imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay.
Khadr himself has already filed a $10-million civil lawsuit against the Canadian government, while advocates like Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group claim that Canada's general fund for compensation of victims is "clearly insufficient" for the wrongs he has suffered.
Should Canadian taxpayers pay millions of dollars to a person who left Canada to join al-Qaeda and fight coalition forces in Afghanistan? Khadr built improvised explosive devices, killed U.S. army medic Christopher Speer, bragged of his exploits, pleaded guilty to murder and terrorism, and confessed to wanting to kill as many Americans as possible. Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Michael Welner testified that Khadr is "highly dangerous" and has "been marinated in jihadist thinking."
Furthermore, Ezra Levant reveals that in an intensive interview between Welner and Khadr, the only examples of torture the latter could provide were: being told in an insensitive manner that his father had died, and having guards put him on a scale -- ostensibly against his will -- to be weighed in order for the International Red Cross to determine if he was receiving adequate food and care.
Three thoughts cross my mind:
First, if the Supreme Court of Canada is correct that Khadr's section seven Charter rights were infringed upon based on a specific series of events in 2003-2004, then the appropriate remedy in this case is not financial compensation from the taxpayers of a country that the Khadr family has manipulated over the years. The government recently confirmed that Khadr will be brought back to Canada; balanced against the harm he has caused others, repatriation ought to be a sufficient remedy for any wrong he has suffered.
Second, if Khadr wishes to sue anyone, perhaps it should be his parents -- on the grounds that they failed in their legal duty of care to him. Raising Omar to be a contributing member of an al-Qaeda family, they chose to spend their time as Canadian citizens not in Canada but in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Omar was regularly introduced to senior al-Qaeda leaders while he was growing up, and was sent for elite training in the use of various weapons and poisons. This evidence suggests that he was encouraged by his parents to be a killer in a dangerous part of the world -- and they ought to be found culpable for putting him in harm's way.
This is not to say that Omar bears no responsibility for his actions. On the contrary, he presented as bright, mature (taking on a leadership role among far older prisoners at Guantanamo), and remorseless. However, there is also little doubt that the example and educational curriculum set by parents can have a profound impact on a person's development.
Third, while various groups have called for Khadr to be compensated by the government, these same groups have yet to speak out about the dismal compensation schemes for Canadian victims of terrorist attacks -- such as those committed by bin Laden's terrorist network of which Omar and his family were a part.
Limited federal emergency funding is provided to Canadians killed or assaulted outside of Canada, but it's only for expenses they incur traveling to foreign countries to attend trial, for victims to return to Canada after an attack, or for a supporter to fly to the victim in the immediate aftermath of an attack. This funding is only provided when no other sources of funding are available, and explicitly excludes compensation costs.
The Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime notes in a 2007 report that federal compensation for Canadian terror victims is nonexistent, while provincial compensation plans are inadequate, fluctuate across the country, and only recognize those who were injured inside the province.
This means that there is no compensation for Canadian terror victims who are injured or killed in a terrorist attack outside of the country. Moreover, the sums are shockingly small. If a terrorist attack were to take place in Ontario, for example, all victims -- regardless of how many -- would have to share a maximum amount of $150,000.
Interestingly, Canada's Criminal Code contains a provision allowing the government to seize property that is owned or controlled by a terrorist group, or that is used for terrorist activity. A subsequent section allows for the proceeds that arise from disposing of that property to be used to compensate terror victims, in accordance with regulations made by the Governor in Council. Yet despite requests from victims, no regulations have been enacted and no proceeds have ever been distributed to victims.
Where is the outcry from legal advocacy groups? Where is the demand for a royal commission?
Why does a convicted terrorist deserve millions of dollars, while terror victims languish?
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