Moral Low Ground


‘The Moral High Ground’: Citing U.S. Human Rights Abuses, Canadian Court Refuses to Extradite Alleged Al-Qaeda Agent

Abdullah Khadr (Photo: AP)

Citing grave human rights abuses committed by the United States and Pakistan, and asserting that sending a wanted terrorism suspect to the US would amount to sanctioning human rights abuses,  a Canadian appeals court has upheld a decision by a Toronto judge who refused to extradite suspected al-Qaeda collaborator Abdullah Khadr to Boston.

According to the Toronto Star, Khadr is wanted in Boston on charges of procuring weaponry for al-Qaeda for use against US and coalition (that includes Canada) forces in Afghanistan.

Khadr is the older brother of Omar Khadr, who is imprisoned in the US concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay, and the son of Ahmed Khadr, an allegedly close pal of the late Osama bin Laden who was killed by Pakistani security forces in 2003.

Terrorism, it seems, is a family affair for the Khadrs.

Still, the Canadian judges voted unanimously to uphold a 2010 decision by Justice Christopher Speyer of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to stay Khadr’s extradition.

“We must adhere to our democratic and legal values, even if that adherence serves in the short term to benefit those who oppose and seek to destroy those values,” Justice Robert Sharpe wrote. “For if we do not, in the longer term, the enemies of democracy and the rule of law will have succeeded. They will have demonstrated that our faith in our legal order is unable to withstand their threats.”

The Canadian ruling stands in sharp contrast to America’s towards suspected terrorists, which is basically that they are unworthy of any rights or protections whatsoever and that kidnapping, torture and extrajudicial murder are all acceptable tools to be utilized in the fight against terrorism.

“No doubt some will say that those who seek to destroy the rule of law should not be allowed its benefits,” Justice Robert Sharpe wrote. “I do not share that view.”

The United States paid Pakistan’s security agency, the ISI, $500,000 to abduct Abdullah Khadr, who is a Canadian citizen, in Islamabad in 2004. He was denied access to Canadian consular authorities, beaten until he cooperated with interrogators and held in a secret prison for over a year.

Wrote Sharpe: “It surely can come as no surprise that in a country like Pakistan with a constitution guaranteeing fundamental rights and freedoms, it is illegal to accept a bounty or bribe from a foreign government to abduct a foreign national from the street, to beat that individual until he agrees to cooperate, to deny him consular access, to hold him in a secret detention center for eight months while his utility as an intelligence source is exhausted, and then to continue to hold him in secret detention for six more months at the request of a foreign power.”

Washington wanted Pakistan to allow for his extraordinary rendition to the US, but Islamabad refused to do so without Canadian approval. Canada wisely refused. Khadr was instead flown to Canada; the Boston charges were filed shortly thereafter.

This isn’t the first time that Canada has taken a stand against US human rights violations. In 2008, a training manual for Canadian diplomats briefly included the United States and Israel on a list of countries where prisoners are at risk of being tortured or abused. After intense pressure from the US and Israel, they were removed from the list.



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  1. DianeMay 9, 2011 at 7:53 amReply

    This one judge doesn’t speak for Canada, unfortunately. There’s a good chance the Harper government will appeal the decision.

    The Canadian government could charge Khadr with treason. Given the whole family background and circumstances, this seems ridiculous, unless there’s any reason to believe he is a security threat at this time. Turning him over to the US would be worse. No doubt that’s exactly what the Harper government would like to do, and will do, if they can.

    • Brett WilkinsMay 9, 2011 at 11:43 amReplyAuthor

      Methinks your (sorry to call him “yours,” by that I mean Canada’s) Harper would make a fine Texas Republican!

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