Supreme Court to hear Ottawa’s Khadr challenge

Bill Curry
Ottawa — The Globe and Mail
Last updated on Friday, Sep. 04, 2009 11:34AM EDT

The Supreme Court of Canada will hear the federal government’s appeal of the Omar Khadr case, a decision that will prolong an issue that has become one of the top political issues on the eve of a likely federal election.

The Supreme Court issued a statement today confirming the government’s request for an appeal has been granted and will be heard Nov. 13, 2009.

Mr. Khadr has been held inside the American detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba since 2002. He faces a range of charges in connection to allegations he killed an American during a battle in Afghanistan when he was 15 years old.

The federal government has lost its case in two lower courts. Both the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal ordered Ottawa to ask the American government to hand over Mr. Khadr.

The federal government has consistently argued that Mr. Khadr faces serious charges and that the legal process he faces should be allowed to continue. Federal lawyers have also argued in court that foreign affairs decisions are the exclusive domain of the Prime Minister and cabinet and that courts should not be allowed to interfere.

In a minority ruling, one of the three judges on the Federal Court of Appeal agreed with the government’s view regarding the role of the courts in foreign affairs.

However human rights activists and opposition parties have condemned the Conservative government’s refusal to request Mr. Khadr’s return. Opposition MPs had attacked the government’s decision to seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court as “appalling” and “masochistic.”

Critics of the government’s position note that every other Western country with citizens held at Guantanamo Bay has secured their return.

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