In a completely predictable move, the Canadian government has appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada to fight their earlier two losses in a bid to extradite Abdullah Khadr to the US. Abdullah Khadr was captured and tortured by Pakistani forces who were paid $500,000 by the US for their efforts. He was held for fourteen months in a Pakistan prison without charges, and arrested again within a week of his return to Canada. He was then held without bail, pending extradition to the US, from December 2005 until his release last August 2010. In response to the application brought by Khadr’s lawyer Dennis Edney, arguing that the US government’s evidence against Khadr was inadmissible because it relied on information gathered under torture in Pakistan, the Ontario Superior Court’s presiding judge called his treatment “both shocking and unjustifiable.”
Canada’s government predictably appealed and in May, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the verdict unanimously. The 33 page decision stated that to allow the extradition would amount to the Canadian courts being complacent with the torture.
“We must adhere to our democratic and legal values, even if that adherence serves in the short term to benefit those who oppose and seek to destroy those values, for if we do not, in the longer term, the enemies of democracy and the rule of law will have succeeded. They will have demonstrated that our faith in our legal order is unable to withstand their threats. … It surely can come as no surprise that in a country like Pakistan with a constitution guaranteeing fundamental rights and freedoms, it is illegal to accept a bounty or bribe from a foreign government, to abduct a foreign national from the street, to beat that individual until he agrees to co-operate, to deny him consular access, to hold him in a secret detention centre for eight months while his utility as an intelligence source is exhausted, and then to continue to hold him in secret detention for six more months at the request of a foreign power,” said the decision. They also pointed out that refusing the extradition does not prevent the Attorney General from bringing the case before Canadian courts.
The government disagrees, stating in their appeal application that the decision will “inevitably lengthen” extradition hearings and make it more difficult for Canada to comply with its international legal obligations. The US has, since the 1999 Extradition Act, enjoyed anunequal extradition treaty with Canada: “The new Act effectively reduces extradition in Canada from a traditionally judicial process (as it remains in the United States) to an essentially administrative process.”
Khadr’s lawyer, Dennis Edney earlier stated that the decision shows the US, “When they come to the court, they are supposed to come with clean hands, meaning that the evidence they are relying on to extradite that person is legal, it’s not evidence that has been relied on through torture and abuse.” The Canadian government argues that the torture used to obtain evidence was not directly relevant to the extradition decision.
Edney expressed no surprise at the appeal, telling Postmedia News “The government has been consistent in appealing each and every strong ruling by the federal courts in both the Abdullah Khadr and Omar Khadr cases, only to be overruled once again at the Supreme Court level, and all at the expense of the public purse.”
The role of public apathy and encouragement of the US in these appeals has been well revealed in the US State cables released by Wikileaks. Regarding Abdullah’s brother Omar the cables said “There would be virtually no political blowback domestically for the Conservative Party if the government chooses to pursue an appeal, making this a strong likelihood.”