The notorious detention military facility has been holding a youth for eight years now since his mid teenage years.
Omar Khadr is facing five military commission charges, including a murder charge in relation to the death of a US soldier during a firefight in Afghanistan in July 2002 He faces the possibility of a lifeprison sentence if convicted. Even if acquitted he could be returned to indefinite military detention.
Nearly eight years after he was first taken into custody, Omar Khadr has still not been able to challenge the lawfulness of his detention in court and to have that court rule on the lawfulness of his detention. 12 June 2010 marked two years since the US
Supreme Court ruled that the detainees held at Guantánamo have the right to a “prompt” hearing to make such a challenge.
The treatment of Omar Khadr throughout his detention has violated the USA’s obligations under international law, including the requirement that in all actions concerning children the best interests of the child must be a primary consideration. The USA has ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child which forbids the recruitment or use in hostilities by non-state armed groups of under-18-year-olds and requires states to provide any such child who comes within their jurisdiction “all appropriate assistance for their physical and psychological recovery and their social reintegration”. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, as part of its review of US compliance with the Optional Protocol, has called on the USA not to try before a military tribunal anyone detained as a child in any armed conflict. On 26 May 2010, UNICEF called for an end to the military commission trial of Omar Khadr. UNICEF’s executive director stated: “anyone prosecuted for offenses they allegedly committed while a child should be treated in accordance with international juvenile justice standards, which provide them with special protections. Omar Khadr should not be prosecuted by a tribunal that is neither equipped nor required to provide these protections and meet these standards.”
Amnesty International considers that no one under 18 years old should ever have been transferred to Guantánamo, and that no Guantánamo detainee, let alone one who was a child at the time of his alleged crime, should be subject to a military commission trial.
No existing international tribunal has ever prosecuted an individual for war crimes allegedly committed when he or she was a child.