Thursday, February 18, 2010

Less fear mongering, more rationality

A reminder from the archives of the rehabilitation plan for Omar Khadr. It's become relevant as Conservatives seem to be embarking upon a cause of fear mongering about the eventual return of Khadr to Canada, the rehabilitation plan and what that might mean. This may be a matter of changing the subject to a more inflammatory topic, raising the spectre of radical individuals with whom Khadr might associate upon return. Perhaps they hope to taint political parties in support of Khadr's repatriation with some of that radicalism. Easier for them to focus on that than the minimal response of the Harper government to the Supreme Court decision ordering that Khadr be provided a remedy for the ongoing breach of his rights as he remains detained, for seven years without trial, at Guantanamo Bay. But if you review what we know about the plan filed with the U.S. commission and have faith in the Canadian court system to put in place a comprehensive and regimented plan, the facts rather than the fear should prevail.

Here's what's been put forth previously, likely instructive about what we could expect to upon Khadr's return in the future:
According to the proposed repatriation and rehabilitation program filed at the military commission where Khadr is being tried, the young Toronto-born man would spend years undergoing psychological treatment, formal education and a special deradicalization program.

The plan would provide him with help developing basic life skills missed out on during his past six years behind bars and seek to prevent him from falling back into extremist circles, including with his own al-Qaeda-linked family.
The Canadian government would also require some legal process to keep Khadr in check. One option would be to use a so-called "control order" under Canada's anti-terrorism law, which is a form of house arrest that places restrictions on suspects' movements and requires them to report daily to a police station.

Anthony Doob, a University of Toronto criminologist, says the order may include mental health treatment, restrictions on associating with certain people and instructions to obtain a certain kind of education as part of the process of re-integrating the person in Canadian society.

An order would impose incarceration on someone who violated the strict conditions, said Doob. "It is a pretty powerful set of controls that can be put on him," said Doob.

Once Khadr was back in the country, the proposed rehabilitation program would begin, starting with six to 12 months in a secure residential facility for an evaluation of his mental state, followed by another six to 18 months in a minimum-security facility for treatment.

Dr. Howard Barbaree has offered up his institution, Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, to conduct the psychological assessment and admit Khadr for treatment, in what may be a first for the clinic.

"Never in our history, I don't think we have done an assessment of risk for terrorist activity," said Barbaree.

The centre's assessment and triage unit — an inpatient unit that deals mostly with treatment of criminals — would complete the review and would keep Khadr in a secure facility with TV cameras monitoring his moves, said Barbaree.

"I think we can assure that Mr. Khadr would be safe there and the chances of escape are almost zero," said Barbaree.

The psychological assessment would also seek to determine whether Khadr would pose a future terrorism threat.
Are you getting a sense of the thoroughness of proposed planning and the range of options a Canadian court will have at its disposal to oversee such a rehabilitation plan? A second version of a proposed rehabilitation plan, with alterations of the above stages, is discussed in this subsequent CBC report. It includes a home-schooling component and psychiatric care with a Toronto torture expert.

What's important in all of this is the knowledge that whatever program Khadr will follow will be legally sanctioned by a Canadian court and its content fashioned to ensure it's appropriate. The government will be represented and can make submissions objecting to the inclusion of certain aspects or involvement of certain individuals if there are legitimate grounds to do so. But fear mongering now about the possible influences of individual(s) upon Khadr while being rehabilitated seems to be ludicrous and gratuitously inflammatory knowing the safeguards and planning that will be in place. That is, assuming we get to that place in the near future when such discussions aren't just hypothetical.