New York, 05 May 2010 — Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed conflict once again calls on the Governments of Canada and the United States of America to respect the spirit of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and immediately release Omar Khadr into Canadian custody. Ms. Coomaraswamy is deeply concerned that his case has been brought to trial under the Guantanamo military commission and that he has been charged with war crimes.
Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen, is being prosecuted under the US military commission at Guantanamo. He was arrested in Afghanistan in 2002 at the age of fifteen and has been in US custody, much of it in solitary confinement, for the last seven years. He is the last remaining child soldier at the Guantanamo facility.
The Special Representative calls upon both the Canadian and US Governments to treat Omar Khadr as a child soldier and to undertake efforts for his rehabilitation and reintegration back into his community. “Like other children abused by armed groups around the world who are repatriated to their home communities and undergo re-education for their reintegration, Omar should be given the same protections afforded these children. Trying young people for war crimes with regard to acts committed when they are minors could create a dangerous international precedent,” said the Special Representative.
Ms. Coomaraswamy will continue with her efforts with the Canadian and United States Governments to secure his release and reintegration.
For further information, please contact:
Timothy La Rose, Communication Officer – Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict – firstname.lastname@example.org- +1 212 963 0984 – www.un.org/children/conflict