Last Friday, February 7, Omar Khadr was moved to the medium-security prison, Bowden Institution and Annex. The transfer is a step closer to justice and freedom, as he can finally earn his parole that allows his reintegration into society. Many Canadians are pleased that the placement in the new prison will allow Omar to access programs and services. However, it doesn’t alleviate the fact that Omar’s imprisonment is an abuse of human rights and the rule of law.
Dennis Edney, Omar’s lawyer, said, “My position is similar to that of the Ombudsman’s office: he should be classified as minimum and released.”
The Canadian government reluctantly transferred Omar from Guantanamo to Canada in September 2012. While every other Western nation released their citizens upon transfer from Guantanamo, Omar was immediately incarcerated in a maximum-security jail in his native country. Canada insisted in his imprisonment under harsh conditions.
That placement was firmly criticized by The Office of the Correctional Investigator (OCI): “The OCI has not found any evidence that Mr. Khadr’s behaviour while incarcerated has been problematic and that he could not be safely managed at a lower security level. I recommend that Mr. Khadr’s security classification be reassessed taking into account all available information and the actual level of risk posed by the offender, bearing in mind his sole offence was committed when he was a minor.”
Omar Khadr was classified as minimum security in Guantanamo. The OCI further noted that “according to a psychological report on file, Omar Khadr interacted well with others and did not present with violent or extremist attitudes”.
Ombudsman scolds officials for branding Omar Khadr a maximum security inmate