What should be done with Omar Khadr? Twenty years old, Khadr has been held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba since 2002 for a crime he is alleged to have committed when he was 15, an age at which under international law he is considered to have been a child soldier.
On Monday, two U.S. military commissions in separate decisions dismissed charges against Mr. Khadr and a second prisoner held at Guantanamo Bay, on the ground that the process the Bush administration set up does not comply with the new U.S. Military Commissions Act, passed by Congress last fall to correct the failings of a previous law.
Even before Monday's trial, the U.S. said it was unlikely it would release Mr. Khadr, or any other detainee. Waiting while the U.S. sorts out its military tribunal rules could prove time-consuming. The appeal process, to which prosecutors vowed on Monday to apply, does not yet exist.
The United States has had five years to set up a judicial process that would meet minimal tests of common sense, not to say international standards. Its failure to find a solution is lamentable. The one positive sign is that U.S. courts, including the much-maligned military tribunals, have twice rejected processes as unconstitutional or illegal.
So, the question remains what should be done with Omar Khadr, one of four sons of a notorious al-Qaida fighter, Ahmed Said Khadr, who was killed in a battle with the Pakistan army in 2003.
The best option would be to send him home to Canada. As a Canadian citizen, he has human rights that his country has failed to defend adequately. He has yet to be tried in a recognized court of law, a gap Canada could fill. We could use a security certificate to keep tabs on the young man once he is transferred from Guantanamo Bay.
A second, less attractive option would be to request that the United States send him to the site of the alleged crime, Afghanistan. But Afghanistan's reputation for justice is not on a par with ours. On balance, the best place for him is here, whatever Canadians might feel about his family and their views.
- The Gazette (Montreal)