Canada Calls for UN Inspectors to Focus on Iran

By William Miller,

Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

OTTAWA, Canada – A Canadian drafted UN resolution released on Thursday, October 29 sharply criticized Iran for their continuing violations of human rights. Canada has proposed such resolutions before but this resolution is the first to criticize UN Special Investigators for their failure investigate Iran’s atrocious human rights violations.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon suggested that this resolution will be the strongest Criticism of Iran’s human rights violations drafted by Canada. Cannon has been historically critical of Iran and led a walkout in protest of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last month at the UN Delegation.

Canada has emerged as the leader in attacking Iran’s human rights violations and have drafted all resolutions criticizing such violations since 2003. In that year, an Iranian born photojournalist named Zahara Kazemi was arrested, tortured and killed in Iran. The Canadian resolutions stemming from this incident have been unanimously supported by the UN despite persistent attacks on procedural grounds by Iran.

The current resolution will be the first one to criticize inspectors by asking them to focus more intensely on Iran. Past resolutions drafted by Canada have called for Iranian cooperation but have fallen short of criticizing inspectors. The draft specifically mentions inspectors who focus their investigations in areas of human rights such as extra-judicial executions, torture, free speech suppression, persecution of human rights activists, arbitrary detention, and enforced disappearances. Iran has issued a standing invitation to such investigators but has consistently ignored attempts by investigators looking to visit the country and has not filled a single request in four years.

UN inspectors are already facing criticism for not focusing their efforts on countries like Iran and instead placing the majority of their attention on developed democracies. Critics say that developed countries already have the systems in place to deal with violations and that countries like Iran, where the inspectors are truly needed, are left unchecked. Inspector Gay MacDougal was mentioned as one of the unnecessary inspectors. MacDougal focuses on minorities and was investigating Canada as the resolution was being finished. So far fifty percent of the countries visited by McDougal have been mature democracies like Canada.

The resolution specifically accuses Iran of “persistent failure to uphold due process of law rights, and violation of rights of detainees, including defendants held without charge or incommunicado, the systematic and arbitrary use of prolonged solitary confinement, and lack of timely access to legal representation.” The resolution also alleges increased discrimination against minorities pointing to the 2008 arrest of Bahai religious leaders who are currently still being held. Other specific examples of human rights abuses mentioned in the resolution include flogging, amputation and stoning.

For more information, please see:

National Post – Of Toronto & Tehran – 30 October 2009

Washington TV – Canada Urges UN Investigators to Focus on Rights abuses in Iran – 30 October 2009

Ottawa Citizen – Canada Unveils UN Resolution Blasting Iran’s Rights Record – 29 October 2009

The Vancouver Sun – Canada Tries to Focus UN Spotlight on Iran’s Human Rights Record – 28 October

United States Looks to Return Child Soldier to Canada

By William Miller

Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

OTTAWA, Canada – The United States is quietly looking for a way to return one of the five Guantanamo detainees set to be tried at a military tribunal. An anonymous source told Canwest news service that the United States does not want to try Omar Kadar, the youngest detainee to be held at the prison for war crimes.

Omar Khadr, The youngest detainee at Guantanamo bay, was just fifteen when he was arrested. An anonymous source has said the United States government may be looking to repatriate Khadr to Canada. (PHOTO: AFP)

Khardr who is a Canadian citizen was only fifteen years old when he was first sent to Guantanamo in 2002. He was taken prisoner in Afghanistan after he allegedly threw a grenade at United States solders killing one. He is the youngest person and the only westerner still being held at the Guantanamo Bay Prison in Cuba.

According to an anonymous source within the Obama administration the United States “[does] not have the stomach to try a child for war crimes.” The anonymous source also said that there might be political repercussions to not trying Khadr. As a result the United States is looking to Canada to make the first move.

Last month, Canada’s Supreme Court held that the Canadian government had violated Kadar’s rights but fell short of ordering the Canadian government to demand repatriation for Kadar. The court found that officials from the Canadian Foreign Affairs and Spy agency had violated Kadar’s rights by questioning Khadr rafter he had been exposed to torture. The Canadian government who has long sought to stay out of the situation has softened its position some by asking the United States government not to use shared evidence in prosecuting Kadar.

The United States Department of Justice declined to comment on the issue. Spokesman for the department Dean Boyd said “Omar Khadr Hs been referred for [a] military commission prosecution….I have no comment for you on whether or not there are any discussions between the United States or Canada regarding Omar Khadr’s case.”

Khadr will have to answer to five charges if brought before the military commission. Among those charges is the murder of Delta Force Sergeant Chris Speer who died from injuries resulting from the hand grenade Khadr allegedly threw. The department of justice has said they will not seek the death penalty if Khadr is convicted but will only consider his age as a mitigating factor. Inside sources in the department of justice have said that while Khadr will face a long prison sentence if convicted the Department of Justice will not seek a life sentence.

For more information, please see:

AFP – U. S. Weighs Guantanamo Inmates Return to Canada – 8 March 2010

All Headline News – U. S. May Repatriate Omar Khadr from Guantanamo – 8 March 2010

National Post – U. S. Looks For a Way to Return Khadr – 8 March 2010