Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Harper's Gov't Caught Lying About POWs Being Tortured In Afghanistan & Omar Khadr Part 2. & Update: Blackwater in Pakistan

Today's Menu:

Canadian Government and military lied about the torture of POWs handed over to Afghans and American authorities.

Omar Khadr part 2, Child Soldiers and Canada's shame

Blackwater Mercenaries killing ,kidnapping, assassinating and planing Drone attacks in Pakistan. Does NATO & Canada approve-It is becoming another American engineered Dirty War.

UPDATE: 2:47 Pm -Is this also what Canada and NATO have signed up for to terrorize the Pakistan peoples and to foster the notion of a Christian Crusade against Islam.. Jeremy Scahill charges that Blackwater Mercenaries are working for the American Government in covert operations in Pakistan-targeted assassinations,kidnappings, Drone attacks etc.

Here's a rousing video for Blackwater's founder and CEO Evangelical Fundamentalist Erik Prince's on going crusade against Islam. see more at end of post or go to DemocracyNow! Nov. 24, 2009

This post was going to be mainly a follow up to the case of the Canadian Citizen "Child Soldier" Omar Khadr - it still is but I begin with the breaking news of Canada's culpability in the torture of POWs handed over to Afghan authorities. Note I prefer to use POWs Prisoners of War because "Detainee " is just part of the Bush/Cheney Regimes Newspeak. The people detained are accused of being "enemy combatants". According to the definition of "Terrorists" and "detainee" the U.S. government or Canadian and British Government s would be justified in abusing and torturing any criminal suspected of being a Domestic Terrorists or having known at some point someone who may have had contact with an International Terrorist Organization.

This becomes a slippery slope so why not abuse, beat up, torture your average Child molester or rapists or thief or murderer where does it end. We hear this all the time from the military, the government and police forces that they must be completely and utterly and unconditionally to do whatever they need to to get the bad guys. So torturing some perp because he might know where there is a Marijuana Grow-op or knows who robbed a bank etc. So if the public is in favor of these Draconian Fascistic ways of policing society then Canadians should be ashamed of themselves.

" An Afghan agency, at one time entrusted to monitor Canadian-captured insurgents in Kandahar, says it has documented nearly 400 cases of torture across the war-ravaged country…The Conservative government has described Colvin’s allegation as hearsay, unsubstantiated and “simply not credible.” However, the Afghan commission said it uncovered 47 cases of abuse in Kandahar, which was ranked third in terms of the number of abuse claims in the country.

Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment are common in the majority of law enforcement institutions, and at least 98.5 per cent of interviewed victims have been tortured,” said the commission’s April 2009 study."

The independent study, which tracked abuse claims between 2001 and early 2008, shows the vast majority of them — 243 — were leveled in 2006 and 2007. That is the time frame when Colvin was in Afghanistan and warning the federal government about torture."
Quoted From:
"Report cites 400 torture cases Natynczyk admits transferring of prisoners to Afghans was halted more than once" By MURRAY BREWSTER The Canadian Press/Chronicle Herald.ca, Nov 23,2009

“We don’t minimize the seriousness of the crimes for (which) Khadr was accused. But he’s done, what is it, seven, eight years in Guantanamo in horrendous conditions, and we think it’s time he was brought home and re-integrated.”
Quote from: Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff , Aug. 25, 2009 Globe & Mail

"The judges here are under a lot of pressure ...This prosecution is an embarrassment to the United States. The US has been a leader in international efforts to protect child soldiers, but we're flouting them in Omar's case."
Quote by Lt-Cdr William Kuebler head of Mr Khadr's defence team

Anyway I'm not surprised by these new revelations since if one just Googles some of the tags to the story you'll find members of Parliament and the Press has been asking questions about the issue of making sure POWs handed over to third parties are not abused or tortured.Though I am surprised this all went public so quickly which may be a good sign that the Canadian people will insist that the government do the right thing -but highly unlikely- bureaucrats and politicians always circle their wagons when it comes to certain issues since they believe in the notion of "Entitlement" that is being a special breed better than the rest of us they are not to be questioned or doubted.When something good happens these strange creatures are all too eager to take responsibility but when things don't go well they all go on holiday or take a few sick days or scurry to their oak and walnut offices too busy for appointments or calls. ( like Major Major in Catch 22- only receives people when he is not in-)

So it appears Peter McKay, Prime Minister Harper and other members of the Canadian Government and military may have been lying for years as part of an ongoing cover-up about how bad the situation is or was in Afghanistan . So Canada's hands are not so clean after all. We like the Americans have our own lust not for justice but for "Bloody Revenge" for each and every Canadian soldier wounded or killed.

This also shows that the Harper Governments lack of interest in the case of the "Child Soldier" Omar Khadr or other cases involving Canadian Citizens held by the Americans who are also known to torture and abuse of POWs (detainees)as part of standard Operations Procedures not just in GITMO where we know prisoners are still being abused and tortured as Jeremy Scahill ( documented recently. Now they use these gangs of soldiers or guards to beat the shit out of prisoner just for the fun of it or are they still getting orders from the Pentagon and the President to do these things.

" Afghan agency reported 400 cases of torture - 47 of them in Kandahar " by Scott Tribe of Scott's Diatribes November 23, 2009

I’m presuming that Peter MacKay and the rest of the Conservative government will claim since this agency didn’t actually, you know, see the torture first hand, it’s ‘not reliable’:

" An Afghan agency, at one time entrusted to monitor Canadian-captured insurgents in Kandahar, says it has documented nearly 400 cases of torture across the war-ravaged country…The Conservative government has described Colvin’s allegation as hearsay, unsubstantiated and “simply not credible.” However, the Afghan commission said it uncovered 47 cases of abuse in Kandahar, which was ranked third in terms of the number of abuse claims in the country.

“Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment are common in the majority of law enforcement institutions, and at least 98.5 per cent of interviewed victims have been tortured,” said the commission’s April 2009 study."

The independent study, which tracked abuse claims between 2001 and early 2008, shows the vast majority of them — 243 — were levelled in 2006 and 2007. That is the time frame when Colvin was in Afghanistan and warning the federal government about torture.

MacKay and the Conservatives are still out there claiming there is still no solid proof anyone turned over to the Afghan NDS has been abused or tortured – solid proof apparently meaning to the Conservatives that someone has to see it happening first-hand (and how many bets if someone came forward to say that they had – the Conservatives would ask where the video tape of it was.. etc etc? Is there any doubt they’d trip over themselves raising the standard of proof needed on this?).

As Aaron Wherry queries, he wonders if that means more then a few reports on this topic are also going to be officially dismissed by the Canadian government:

And don’t forget the Afghan prison warden that Canwest interviewed who readily admitted there was torture there, but it wasn’t THAT bad:

Prisoners were tortured at Sarpoza Prison in Afghanistan, but not in nearly the numbers alleged this past week by a Canadian diplomat, the prison’s chief warden has told Canwest News Service. “Yes, there was torture and people were certainly beaten,” chief warden Col. Abdullah Bawar said Saturday during an interview conducted inside the prison’s heavily guarded walls. “Hands and legs would be tied and they would be beaten with cables. I even remember one man who broke his leg from a beating.”

Although his timeline was a bit fuzzy as to when such abuses stopped, Bawar estimated that “around 100 prisoners” from a population of about 1,100 had been physically abused during 2006 and 2007, which he referred to as “this dark period.”

So let’s get this straight: The warden of an Afghan prison admits to torture occurring, but the Conservative government can’t admit that any of the reports it received or a report such as this is are ‘credible instances of torture’?

also see:"Report cites 400 torture cases Natynczyk admits transferring of prisoners to Afghans was halted more than once" By MURRAY BREWSTER The Canadian Press / Chronicle Herald.ca, Nov 23,2009

And via Huffington Post story from NY Times:
"Canadian Military Has Quit Turning Detainees Over To Afghans" Nov. 24, 2009,New York Times

The Canadian military secretly stopped transferring prisoners to Afghanistan's government in November after Canadian monitors found evidence that they were being abused and tortured.

The suspension, which began Nov. 5, was disclosed in a fax sent by government lawyers to Amnesty International and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, which are seeking to block the prisoner transfers.

The government's internal concerns about detainees is also at odds with Canadian officials' repeated public statements that the Afghan government does not engage in systematic torture.

"The denials and political posturing and name-calling that have gone on over this at various points is very disheartening when all along there's been this information," said Alex Neve, the head of Amnesty International's Canadian branch.

Despite the suspension, Mr. Neve and Jason Gretl, president of the British Columbia association, said their lawyers would appear at the Federal Court of Canada in Ottawa on Thursday to seek an injunction blocking more transfers.

Obama continuing much of the illegal,unethical, immoral programs of abuse and torture of "detainees" , renditions, kidnappings, targeted assassinations, Unmanned Drones still blowing up wedding celebrations, birthday parties, funerals etc. in Pakistan. So the US and Obama have declared war on Pakistan ???

And now a little reminder of how little the obama administration has done to either stop the abuse of POWs or to investigate all those involved in torturing thousands of so called "detainees' in the various facilities run by American personnel either military,or Navy Seals, Special Forces or private contractors. Bush and Cheney used private contractors to give them another degree or two from the actual torture and abuse. And now Mr. Change & Hope holds out no real change and no hope of getting these war criminals from the top down to face the consequences. President Obama and his American supporters may think he's doing the right thing but he is not. We have numerous stories now of torture and abuse increasing in non-military prisons in the US and tasking place in police stations for instance just watch a few videos of Tazerings in which police get their jollies by torturing someone and some these victims have in fact died but that's the American way of Rough Cowboy Justice. This is the same sort of justice Stephen Harper being a Westerner also believes in nothing like a good old lynching party . And so what if soldiers act up a bit smear a detainee with feces or sodomize them the Canadian and American publics have now decided that's ok. If so then don't complain when an American, a Canadian or British soldier is tortured by the enemy. So who are the Barbarians those who don't seem to know any better or those who in fact do know better and who claim at some level to be civilized. Hard to tell the players apart sometimes . Its like what's the difference between a suicide bomber and a remote controlled Drone purposely dropped in Afganistan in a small village during a wedding because there might be high level Al Qaeda or Taliban or insurgents in attendance.

Torture Photos: US Soldiers Raped, Sodomized Iraqi Prisoners By Tom Eley 29 May, 2009
WSWS.org CounterCurrents.org

In an interview with the British newspaper the Daily Telegraph published Wednesday, former US General Antonio Taguba said that photographs the Obama administration is seeking to suppress show images of US soldiers raping and sodomizing Iraqi prisoners. Taguba, who conducted the military inquiry of prisoner abuse at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in 2004 after some photos of US soldiers torturing prisoners became public, said that among the photos are images of soldiers raping a female prisoner, raping a male detainee, and committing “sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and phosphorescent tube,” according to the Telegraph.

Gen. Taguba said even the description of the photos is explosive. “These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency,” Taguba said. “The mere description of these pictures is horrendous enough, take my word for it.”

Taguba’s revelations expose the deceit of President Barack Obama’s claim, used to justify the photos’ suppression, that they “are not particularly sensational, especially when compared to the painful images that we remember from Abu Ghraib.” In all, it is believed that there are some 2,000 photographs depicting about 400 cases of US military personnel torturing Iraqis and Afghans at seven military prisons. The Bush administration, and now Obama, have sought to block publication of the images.

Obama also claimed that “the most direct consequence of releasing them...would be to inflame anti-American public opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.” While this may likely be true, the criminal nature of the US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan is already well known by the nations’ populations, who have died and been made refugees in the hundreds of thousands since being invaded in 2003 and 2001, respectively. Indeed, this claim only exposes the true nature of the US occupations: they have never been about establishing democracy, but aimed at stamping out resistance to US control of the strategically important nations through mass bloodletting and terror, the historical modus operandi of every imperialist occupying power.

However, the central reason Obama has chosen to fight the photos’ release is that top US generals announced their opposition to their publication. The generals’ intervention came in the midst of increasingly open dissension from the ranks of the military-intelligence apparatus over Obama’s handling of “the war on terror.” After Obama released four Bush administration legal memos justifying torture, a campaign, spearheaded by Bush Vice President Dick Cheney, was launched, appealing to the military brass and spies. Obama responded by promising he would block any investigation of the previous administration’s carefully crafted and controlled torture policies. He then reversed an earlier decision to not appeal a judge’s ruling in response to an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) freedom of information lawsuit launched in 2004, which demanded the release of dozens of the torture photos.

An Obama Pentagon spokesman denied that the suppressed images depict rape, while a carefully worded statement seemed to indicate other photos depict precisely such actions. Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the Telegraph “has completely mischaracterized the images.... None of the photos in question depict the images that are described in that article.” Whitman did not specifically deny Taguba’s claims.

Obama claims that the torture depicted in the photographs was committed by “a small number of individuals,” and that those “involved have been identified, and appropriate actions have been taken.” Here we may safely assume Obama is referring to a small handful of rank-and-file soldiers.

But what of the high-ranking officers who oversaw, endorsed and most likely ordered the torture and rape of prisoners? If there are 2,000 photographs of prisoner torture that fell under the control of the Pentagon, how many more cases were not photographed? It is clear that the torture and rape of prisoners went far beyond the actions of “a few bad apples.” This torture and sexual humiliation of prisoners—up to and including rape—can only be described as the systematic policy of the US military and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), sanctioned at the highest levels of government. Indeed, the generals’ opposition to further publication of the photos is likely based in part on their own association with the crimes.

The policy of torture came from higher still, however, as recently released Justice Department legal memos and other evidence show. Various forms of torture, including forced nudity and sexual humiliation were studied, justified, and individually approved by top White House and congressional officials. A US Senate Armed Services Committee report issued in April reveals that Bush Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld personally approved 15 “harsh interrogation” methods. A version of Rumsfeld’s document was used, verbatim, at Abu Ghraib, according to the report. (See “Bush, top cabinet officials monitored torture of detainees”)

Part 2 more on Omar Khadr.

Soldiers and Children in Armed Conflict A CSR (Child Soldier Relief)Special Report

Kate Davey Director of Research Projects

Sarah Pierce Legal Intern and Director of Outreach, Development and Communication

Children have been used as tools of war throughout history, serving not only as foot soldiers on the front line, but also as spies, porters and sexual slaves. Lawmakers and human rights organizations generally recognize the following from the 1997 Capetown Principles as the standard for defining a child soldier: “a child soldier is any person under 18 years of age who is part of any kind of regular or irregular armed force or armed group in any capacity, including but not limited to cooks, porters, messengers and anyone accompanying such groups, other than family members. The definition includes girls recruited for sexual purposes and for forced marriage. It does not, therefore, only refer to a child who is carrying or has carried arms.”

"Guantanamo's Child: The Untold Story of Omar Khadr-1/2
Democracy Now May 6, 2008 Michele Shephard of Toronto Star

"Guantanamo's Child: The Untold Story of Omar Khadr"A US military judge dismissed the argument Friday that Guantanamo's youngest detainee, Omar Khadr, was a child soldier when captured in Afghanistan and therefore in need of protection and not prosecution. US Army Colonel Peter Brownback's ruling clears the way for Khadr's trial, which will be the first war crimes trial in history of anyone under the age of eighteen.

Interrogator accuses this child soldier Omar Khadr of faking it in order to manipulate him. US guards insist he put his shirt back on they seem agitated that he may have told the truth about lack of medical treatment and possible abuse at Gitmo..

Guantanamo Bay child soldier CSIS interrogation - Omar Khadr

"Canadian becomes first child soldier since Nuremberg to stand trial for war crimes" by Michael Savage May 7, 2008

After the publication of the ruling, the head of Mr Khadr's defence team, Lt-Cdr William Kuebler, said the decision to go ahead with the trial was "disappointing, but not surprising".

"The judges here are under a lot of pressure," he said. "This prosecution is an embarrassment to the United States. The US has been a leader in international efforts to protect child soldiers, but we're flouting them in Omar's case."

Human rights organisations have voiced concerns over Mr Khadr's treatment since his arrival at Guantanamo nearly six years ago. Despite his age at the time, Mr Khadr was never treated as a juvenile inmate. He went into the adult camp, rather than Camp Iguana, a camp for minors. His case has also prompted an official protest from the UN's Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy.

Lt-Cdr Kuebler now believes Mr Khadr's only hope of receiving a fair trial is through the Canadian courts, but the Canadian government has refused to intervene in the case, despite growing international pressure. The UK's five leading legal associations have raised concerns with the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, urging him to repatriate Mr Khadr home. The former attorney general Lord Goldsmith, who masterminded the return of the British nationals from Guantanamo, is also calling for Mr Khadr to be tried in his home country.

"It's the principle that matters as far as I'm concerned," said Lord Goldsmith. "For a long time I have felt Guantanamo Bay was not right in principle or practice. But I think that is accentuated in the case of someone who was a child at the time, and different considerations therefore apply in how they are dealt with. I would support Omar's return to Canada, and for Canada to deal with him within their law."

Mr Khadr was detained by US soldiers after a firefight at a compound in a small village near Khost, eastern Afghanistan, in July 2002. He is accused of throwing a grenade that killed US Delta Force soldier, Christopher Speer.

November 16, 2009
" What Will Happen to Guantanamo's "Child Soldier," Omar Khadr?-Omar Khadr was captured at 15 and grew up in Gitmo. It's time to give him a fair shake at justice." By Suzanne Ito at AlterNet.org, Nov. 16, 2009

The world knows Khadr as one of the child soldiers detained at Gitmo since he was 15. (The other child soldier, Mohammed Jawad, was released back to Afghanistan after the government failed to produce enough credible evidence to bring charges against him.) Khadr is accused of throwing a grenade that killed an Army medic in Afghanistan, a charge that the U.S. government itself later threw into question by accident during one of his pre-trial hearings:

During a break in the hearing, members of the press were given copies of legal motions on the issue of whether the military commission has the authority to try Khadr, given his status as a juvenile at the time of his alleged offenses. Included in those papers was a classified attachment, which, according to military commissions officials, should have been redacted, instead of released.

The significance of the document was made clear by Khadr's military defense counsel, Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler. Asked to describe it later in the day, Lt. Cmdr. Kuebler said it dispelled what he referred to as a myth propagated by the government: that Khadr was the only person who could have lobbed the grenade that killed U.S. soldier Christopher Speer -- the basis of the most serious charge against him. The document, created in 2004, turned out to be an interview of a witness to Khadr's capture. In it, the witness describes finding two people alive in the Afghan compound in which Khadr was captured -- the witness shot and killed the first man before he saw Khadr. Then, according to Lt. Cmdr. Kuebler, Khadr, who was 15 years old at the time, "was shot on sight -- in the back -- twice -- while wounded, sitting and leaning against a wall facing away from his attackers." (emphasis ours)

Earlier [Friday], the Supreme Court of Canada heard arguments in an appeal by the Canadian government on two lower court decisions that found Khadr's rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms had been breached when Canadian officials interviewed him at the prison in Guantánamo in 2003 and shared the resulting information with U.S. authorities. Khadr's lawyers argued that Canada was complicit in his abuse and maintain that the Canadian government is obliged under international law to demand the prisoner's return. Since Khadr was only addressed in passing at Attorney General Eric Holder's news conference this morning, Canadian news outlets are reporting the possibility that Khadr could still be repatriated to Canada and tried in a Canadian court.

Or, he could still be tried in the flawed military commission system. But as Dafna Linzer points out ... in ProPublica, the evidence against those the government won't transfer is flimsy:

[…]Most of the remaining [Guantánamo] detainees are considered too difficult to prosecute, mostly because the evidence against them is thin or based on statements obtained through coercion.

One defense attorney said federal prosecutors had so little on his client that they asked the detainee to suggest a charge he would be willing to plead guilty to.

The U.S. government has refused to acknowledge his status as a child or to apply universally recognized standards of juvenile justice in his case. According to Human Rights Watch:

No international tribunal since Nuremberg has prosecuted a child for alleged war crimes. The United Nations committee that monitors the rights of children found that the United States has held alleged child soldiers at Guantánamo without giving due account of their status as children and concluded that the “conduct of criminal proceedings against children within the military justice system should be avoided.

It's time for all Guantánamo detainees to be moved to federal court, a system that's successfully prosecuted more than 150 defendants on terrorism-related charges, both before and after 9/11. Compare that to the whopping three convictions achieved by the broken military commissions. Tell Attorney General Eric Holder to send all detainees' cases to federal court.

Khadr grew up in Gitmo. It's time to give him a fair shake at justice, or better yet, repatriate him to Canada for rehabilitation, and reintegration into society and a second chance in life.

Stephen Harper following the lead of former President Bush and current President Obama ignore the Human Rights issue and the International Conventions on Child Soldiers who are supposed to be treated as victims. So Canada under Stephen Harper has no interest it appears in adhering to International Law. The other issue this raises is this why Canada has shown little interest or concern over POWs being tortured and abused once they are turned over to American officials or Afghans or Pakistanis since America is now a torture state along with Afghanistan Pakistan Iraq, Syria,Israel, Jordan, Somalia etc.Stephen Harper and other government officials refused to take action in the Maher Arar case until it became a Public Relations nightmare for them.

So Canada is now like other nations which have little interests even in the human rights of their own citizens on the one hand and an absolute unconditional deference in such matters to their overlords in the United States whether Bus/Cheney or Obama. If Obama would just recognize Omar Khadr and others in their custody who fit the criteria of a Child Soldier the issue could be resolved . But Obama appears to believe as did Bush and most Republicans and Democrats that International Laws agreements , pacts etc. are just meaningless pieces of paper by which they con the world into believing that they care about human rights in other words its just a Public Relations stunt to be seen voting in the United Nations and signing such agreements while they chuckle to themselves. Americans in general being Machiavellian who have no scruples about treating other countries unfairly and unjustly or as mere colonies Other countries have to follow international law including the Geneva Conventions but the Americans and other superior nations make the rules up as they go along. As it is Obama has given a de facto pardon to all those Americans who were involved in kidnappings, renditions, abuse and torture and targeted assassinations. So once again America gets away with war crimes and crimes against humanity as they did in Vietnam War, and America's dirty wars in Latin America and in the middle East "Coups R'US"

Meanwhile Canada , Britain and other countries fearing America -the Bully in the playground -they act as enablers and apologist defending America unconditionally.Now we seem to have lost our moral compass as it were as the Canadian public demands revenge in the form of blood and flesh to satisfy our lust. Is this what we have become. Just one of America's side kicks like Great Britain which is no longer so Great as it bends to America's will.

Canadian Government Discounts Human Rights Omar Khadr Left in Guantanamo Bay as Ottawa Appeals Court Rulings
Rupert TaylorAug 27, 2009

Canadians Protest Omar Khadr’s Incarceration., Joshua Sherurcij
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has asked the Supreme Court to overturn court orders to seek the return of Omar Khadr.

Omar Khadr is a Canadian citizen. At the age of 15, which by definition made him a child soldier, Mr. Khadr got caught up in a firefight in Afghanistan. He was in that war-torn country because his father, who had terrorist connections, had taken him there. Captured by U.S. soldiers, he was accused of killing an American. He has been held under that charge in the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba prison since 2002.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Canada was prominent in writing and ratifying, extends protection to child soldiers from prosecution for war crimes.
Canadian Officials Violated Khadr’s Rights

Held in solitary confinement and subjected to “enhanced interrogation” by U.S. agents, Omar Khadr was said to be in a fragile mental state when Canadian officials visited him in prison. Writing in The Globe and Mail, Bill Curry (August 26, 2009) reported, “Canadian officials violated his Charter rights in 2003 and 2004 by interrogating him at Guantanamo while he was under duress, and then sharing that information with the Americans.”

This was the judgement on August 14, 2009 of the Federal Court of Appeals, which then ordered Ottawa to seek the release of Khadr. This decision upheld an April 2009 ruling by Federal Court Judge James O’Reilly.

Now, the Conservative government of Stephen Harper has asked the Supreme Court of Canada to overturn the decisions of the two lower courts.

Khadr’s Prison Conditions Described as Poor

The Globe and Mail article reports that “Mr. Khadr is now being held with other detainees. His Canadian lawyer, Dennis Edney, describes the area as a ‘cage’ in which his client is chained to the floor.”

According to Edney, Khadr has lost the sight in one eye and the vision in his other is deteriorating. Citing security concerns, prison guards won’t allow inmates at Guantanamo to have glasses.

Toronto Star writer Tonda McCharles says (August 26, 2009) that “Even some Conservatives privately admit they have been taken aback by Harper’s utter indifference to pleas about Khadr’s plight.

“There’s no clear explanation for it. Is it good foreign policy? Good politics? Or simple ideological stubborness?”
Campaign for Khadr’s Release

Among the human rights groups pressing for Omar Khadr’s release is the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children. Its Chair is Kathy Vandergrift and she was quoted in Embassy magazine (July 29, 2009) as saying her group has advocated that Omar Khadr to be considered a child solider. "At senior levels, we don’t think we have a problem," she said, "we think the (foreign affairs) department understands, but at the political level there is a sense that children involved with terrorists groups are not child soldiers, and that’s simply not the case under international law.”

End Notes on Child Soldiers:

Amnesty International
Child soldiers: Criminals or victims? December 22, 2000

This report examines the complex questions surrounding child soldiers. It addresses such issues as criminal responsibility, where children have committed atrocities voluntarily or through involuntary submission, as well as the need to prosecute those responsible for recruiting and controlling child soldiers.

...3. Amnesty International's view on impunity: investigations and prosecutions are vital.

Amnesty International calls for all perpetrators of crimes involving serious violations of human rights - genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity - to be brought to justice. To do otherwise contributes to the phenomenon of impunity,that is, those who have perpetrated serious crimes or might consider doing so will be encouraged to commit further atrocities, knowing that the matter will not be investigated, and they will not be held accountable. It is extremely important to set an example for others. Impunity also denies victims their right to reparations, which includes the right to an apology and to justice. Amnesty International does not have a position on truth commissions or other forms of restorative justice per se, provided that these are not a substitute for justice.

Amnesty International has underlined the following basic requirements to combat impunity:

''First, there should be thorough investigations into allegations of human rights violations. The object of such investigations should be to determine individual and collective responsibility and to provide a full account of the truth to the victim, their relatives, and society. Investigations must be undertaken by impartial institutions, independent of the security forces, and must be granted the necessary authority and resources for their task. The results of such investigations should be made public.

Second, those responsible for human rights violations must be brought to justice whether they are officials of a past or current government and regardless of whether they are members of the security forces or unofficial paramilitary groups. Alleged perpetrators should be brought to trial and such trials should conclude with a clear verdict of guilt or innocence. Although Amnesty International takes no position on the nature of the sentence, the systematic imposition of penalties that bear little relationship to the seriousness of the offences brings the judicial process into disrepute and does not serve to deter further violations. It is, of course, also important that such trials are conducted in full conformity with internationally-recognised standards and that the defendants are not subjected to the death penalty.

Third, amnesty laws which have the effect of preventing the emergence of the truth and subsequent accountability before the law, should not be acceptable, whether effected by those responsible or by successor governments. However Amnesty International takes no position regarding the granting of post-conviction pardons once the truth is known and the judicial process has been completed.''(6)

4. Amnesty International's policy on child soldiers.

Amnesty International believes that the voluntary or compulsory recruitment and participation in hostilities, whether on the part of governments or armed opposition groups, are all activities that ultimately jeopardize the mental and physical integrity of anyone below the age of 18. For this reason, the organization actively opposes the voluntary or compulsory recruitment, not just the participation in hostilities,of persons below 18 years of age by governments or armed opposition groups.

Recent international standards have underlined that the use of children as soldiers is an abuse of human rights. The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict prohibits absolutely any forced recruitment of children under 18 into the armed forces (Article 2). It allows those under 18 to be recruited voluntarily to state armed forces under certain strict conditions to ensure that such recruitment is voluntary (Article 3). Article 4 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child states that ''armed groups that are distinct from the armed forces of a State should not, under any circumstances, recruit or use in hostilities persons under the age of 18 years.'' This is an absolute prohibition.

ILO Convention No.182 of June 1999 on the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Form of Child Labour includes the prohibition of forced or compulsory recruitment of children under 18 for use in armed conflict.

Article 22(2) of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child(7) states that all parties ''shall take all necessary measures to ensure that no child shall take a direct part in hostilities and refrain in particular from recruiting any child.''

These recent developments follow the prohibitions on the use of children under 15 in Additional Protocols I(8) and II(9) of 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Both Additional Protocols forbid the recruitment of children under 15 to armed forces, and the use of children under 15 in hostilities. Both Additional Protocols emphasise children's special right to care, respect and protection.

The rehabilitation of child soldiers is a paramount concern of international law: Article 6(3) of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child requires that''States parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that persons within their jurisdiction recruited or used in hostilities contrary to this Protocol are demobilised or otherwise released from service. States parties shall, when necessary, accord to these persons all appropriate assistance for their physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration.''

also see:

Blackwater is responsible for Drone attacks and kidnappings, targeted assassinations in Pakistan and other Black-ops programs and secret bases in Pakistan.Cheney & Rumsfeld set up a parallel clandestine force who reported directly to Cheney & Rumsfeld. This program was set up in such a way that even top officials including Obama may not know about its existence or its activities.

Blackwater’s Secret War in Pakistan: Jeremy Scahill Reveals Private Military Firm Operating in Pakistan Under Covert Assassination and Kidnapping Program at DemocracyNow!Nov. 24, 2009

In an explosive new article in The Nation magazine, investigative journalist and Democracy Now! correspondent Jeremy Scahill reveals the private military firm Blackwater is part of a covert program in Pakistan that includes planning the assassination and kidnapping of Taliban and Al-Qaeda suspects. Blackwater is also said to be involved in a previously undisclosed U.S. military drone campaign that has killed scores of people inside Pakistan. The article says the program has become so secretive that top Obama administration and military officials have likely been unaware of its existence. In a Democracy Now!

Blackwater in Pakistan for '' TARGETED KILLINGS ''Sept. 8,2009

Jeremy Scahill: “Little Known Military Thug Squad Still Brutalizing Prisoners at Gitmo Under Obama” May 19, 2009 at DemocracyNow!

Jeremy Scahill reports the Obama administration is continuing to use a notorious military police unit at Guantanamo that regularly brutalizes unarmed prisoners, including gang-beating them, breaking their bones, gouging their eyes and dousing them with chemicals. This force, officially known as the Immediate Reaction Force, has been labeled the “Extreme Repression Force” by Guantanamo prisoners, and human rights lawyers call their actions illegal.

and so it goes,

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