Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Still against the appeal of the Khadr judgment

"Judge sets June 1 for Khadr hearing to resume as UN to debate child soldiers."

Well that's a timely reminder from the Khadr military commission judge. The trials were halted by Obama's executive order but only for 120 days. The Department of Justice is reviewing all of the Guantanamo cases and it is scheduled to report prior to that June 1st date:
Khadr's fate is currently under consideration by a presidential review panel, which is due to make recommendations by May 20. Obama halted all military-commission cases in January pending the review.
And the Department of Justice review team has just received a copy of the Federal Court of Canada decision of April 23rd ordering the government of Canada to request Khadr's repatriation:
Khadr's lawyers immediately forwarded the decision to the review committee as an addendum to the materials filed ahead of the April 15 deadline for submissions.
We should therefore see by May 20 what the U.S. government is going to do with Khadr, prior to the trial start date. We should also know by then whether the Harper government will appeal that repatriation order.

Khadr's lawyers, by the way, are getting some press attention today by dovetailing a press conference on Khadr's case with a UN Security Council debate on child soldiers. The Federal Court judgment of last week relied in part on the UN Protocol on the Rights of the Child in formulating the Canadian government's duty to protect Khadr and get him out of Guantanamo. It is this Protocol that would similarly cause optics problems for the U.S. should it decide to proceed with this military commissions trial of Khadr, 22, who has been in custody for seven years. It's hard to see how the U.S. government would go through with it.

As for the latest guess on whether an appeal of that Khadr judgment will occur, it's possible that they'll just wait for the result of the U.S. review. Launching an appeal would be a very bold step for this government and when it comes down to it, they're not that bold or principled. And launching an appeal would run counter to the Harper passing the buck course of action they've deployed all along. Their course has been to wait and see what the U.S. will do, in their process, to deal with Khadr who is facing "serious charges," as they've told us ad nauseam infinitum. So if the Harper government were to be consistent with their own rhetoric at a minimum, they would wait for the review panel to weigh in and defer to it. Not block the possibility of a diplomatic and legal resolution by taking their first freelance step in the case and launching an appeal.

They're probably going to wait and see, with a whimper, the more you think about it. No bold leadership for Canada likely to be seen here, even with a court order giving them a way out.