Canada

Omar Khadr will need help if released, Commons committee hears

A report prepared by Omar Khadr's lawyers and submitted to a House of Commons committee says the 21-year-old Toronto man will need help re-entering Canadian society if he's ever released from U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay.

Moderate Muslim imam, mental health assessment among lawyers' recommendations

Omar Khadr will need help re-entering Canadian society if he's ever released from custody at Guantanamo Bay, and a House of Commons committee has been hearing how to address that, CBC News has learned.

Khadr's lawyers have prepared a 10-page report on how to reintegrate Khadr into Canada after more than 5½ years in U.S. military custody.

The report has been sent to the Commons subcommittee on international human rights, which has been studying Khadr's case.

The 21-year-old Toronto man is scheduled to appear before a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay this week, charged with killing a U.S. army medic in 2002, but there is no indication of any plan to free him or arrange a plea bargain.

Rather, his lawyers say a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on the legality of the military trials at Guantanamo has thrown the whole future of the controversial legal procedure into doubt.

As well, both U.S. presidential candidates running in this November's elections have said they will shut down Guantanamo, which makes it necessary to plan for Khadr's release, the lawyers say.

Their report proposes that Khadr, if freed, be sent first to a mental health facility in Toronto for a full assessment of the effects of his experiences in Afghanistan and U.S. custody.

CBC reporter Bill Gillespie said the young man has spent years imprisoned with alleged religious extremists, and a more moderate imam would be appointed to oversee his return to Toronto's Muslim community.

The cleric, Hamid Silmi of the International Muslims Organization, has also helped counsel young suspects in the Toronto-area alleged bomb plot case.

Restrictions on associates possible

Gillespie said the report also foresees possible legal restrictions on whom Khadr would be allowed to associate with, if he is ever released.

University of Toronto law professor Anthony Doob said Canada's anti-terrorism law has a provision that might allow Khadr's release with conditions governing his activities and the company he keeps.

"He has to agree to those conditions, and if he doesn't, he can be incarcerated [again]," Doob told CBC News. "It might include an order not to associate with certain people. I might include an order that he gets certain kinds of education."

Khadr's family has a long history of alleged involvement with radical Islamic causes, and his lawyers have said he shouldn't suffer because of some of the things relatives have said and done.

Khadr's father was an avowed al-Qaeda sympathizer before he was killed in fighting with Pakistani military forces in 2003.

His brother, Abdullah, is in a Toronto jail fighting extradition to the U.S. where he's been charged with providing weapons to al-Qaeda.

The Commons committee that received the report on reintegrating Khadr has called for his release, but MPs from the governing Conservatives have opposed the recommendation.

The Harper government has shunned calls from the opposition, human rights groups and others that it seek Khadr's return to Canada to face trial.

A report by Canadian diplomats who visited Khadr earlier this year said his U.S. guards didn't consider him a dangerous man, and had warned of risks that prolonged exposure to the Islamist beliefs of some of his fellow inmates might turn him into a radical too.

He is the last citizen of a Western country still imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay.

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