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Cablegate: Conservatives Against Return of Detainee

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P 192019Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY OTTAWA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8060
INFO RUCNCAN/ALL CANADIAN POSTS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 OTTAWA 000828

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PGOV CA
SUBJECT: CONSERVATIVES AGAINST RETURN OF DETAINEE

1. (U) Summary: Conservative MPs on June 17 defended the
government's refusal to press for the repatriation of Canadian
citizen detainee Omar Khadr from Guantanamo Bay, emphasizing that he
posed a risk, that prosecuting him in Canada was unlikely to result
in a conviction, and that he would inevitably re-establish ties with
his extremist family. Their arguments appeared in a minority
dissenting appendix to a Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report
which had advised the government to press the United States to agree
to the repatriation of Khadr. End summary.


2. (U) The House of Commons Foreign Affairs and International
Development Committee on June 17 reported the findings of a study by
its Sub-committee on Human Rights on the detention and prosecution
of Omar Khadr. The Sub-committee began the study in March and held
six hearings, which included testimony from human rights groups and
Khadr's Canadian and U.S. lawyers. The Sub-Committee and the main
Committee split along party lines. Opposition MPs hold a majority
on both Committees, and overruled the minority Conservatives, who
objected to the study. Conservative members refused to endorse the
Committee report and attached a dissenting report setting out one of
the most detailed public explanations to-date of the government's
position on Omar Khadr. Meanwhile, On June 18, the Senate passed a
separate, non-binding motion that urged the government to negotiate
Khadr's immediate repatriation and develop a plan for his
rehabilitation.

Committee Calls for Return of Khadr
-----------------------------------

3. (U) The main Committee report concluded that Omar Khadr should
have been considered a "child involved in armed conflict," and
afforded the special protection outlined in the relevant UN
Conventions and Canadian policies on child soldiers. The
non-binding report made numerous demands on the government: to call
for the immediate termination of U.S. Military Commission
proceedings against Khadr; to express its objection to the United
States of the latter's claim to the right to detain him as an enemy
combatant; to demand Khadr's repatriation to Canada; to consider the
possibility of prosecuting him in Canada; and to develop appropriate
security and rehabilitation measures to re-integrate Khadr into
society, including placing any "judicially enforceable conditions"
on his conduct.

Conservative Dissent
--------------------

4. (U) In their dissenting report, Conservative members accused
opposition parties of downplaying Khadr's alleged crimes and
pursuing a "one-dimensional" approach that portrayed Khadr as a
"victim." They argued that it was hard to differentiate between the
present government's position and that of the previous Liberal
government, attributing the new-found interest of Liberal members in
Khadr's well-being to "the potential for political gain."
Conservative MPs said the government had "serious concerns" about
Khadr, that the risk he posed as an alleged terrorist was unknown,
that trying him in Canada would pose serious and "unprecedented"
issues, and that it was unlikely he would ever be convicted in
Canada. They also noted that if he returned to Canada, Khadr would
have "no recourse" other than to reestablish ties with his extremist
family.

5. (U) Government members argued further that Canada should strike
the right balance between individual rights and national security,
Qthe right balance between individual rights and national security,
and fulfill its obligation to contribute to the international
struggle against terrorism. They warned that the Khadr case could
be perceived by other countries as a "litmus test" of Canada's
commitment to impeding global terrorism. They also emphasized that
witnesses had shown there was nothing in international law, U.S.
law, or Canadian law, that barred the prosecution of a minor for war
crimes, and stated that, of 1351 Canadians repatriated to Canada
since 1978 under Transfer of Offenders Treaties, all had first been
tried and convicted abroad.

Comment
-------

6. (SBU) Like the Senate resolution, the House Committee report and
the Conservative dissenting report constitute non-binding advice to
the government. The House Committee will most likely forward its
report to the Commons floor for further debate in the fall sitting
of Parliament. This, in turn, will probably result in a "sense of
the House" non-binding resolution. End comment.

7. (U) The entire report is available on the Internet at:

OTTAWA 00000828 002 OF 002


http://cmte.parl.gc.ca/cmte/CommitteePublicat ion.aspx?
SourceId=244375
To use the above web address remove the space between the ? and
Source and paste the address into your web browser.


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