Time to Close the Doors of Guantanamo

The President of the Canadian Bar Association, together with bar leaders around the world, has called on U.S. President George W. Bush to immediately close the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

“Few governmental operations by democratic countries have shown such a profound disrespect for the rule of law,” says CBA President Bernard Amyot of Montreal. “Guantanamo Bay has come to signify injustice for some at the hands of the powerful.”

Thirty-four bar leaders, including the Bâtonnier de l’Ordre des avocats de Paris and the President of the Law Society of England and Wales, have signed a joint letter to express their condemnation of the situation in Guantanamo Bay, while at the same time recognizing the ongoing worldwide threat of terrorism. “By calling for the closure of Guantanamo, we do not detract from the horror of acts of terrorism in the U.S. or other countries,” says the letter.

The full text of the letter and a list of international organizations that signed it can be found here.

The situation in Guantanamo Bay has particular relevance to Canada. The only citizen of a Western country remaining in detention is a Canadian. Other Western nations – France, the U.K. and Germany – have sought and obtained the repatriation of their citizens

Bernard Amyot has once again called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to ask for Canadian Omar Khadr to be transferred to the custody of Canadian law enforcement officials, so that he can face due process under Canadian law and the principles of the rule of law. An earlier letter was sent to Prime Minister Harper in August:

“Transferring Omar Khadr to Canada is not synonymous with impunity,” notes Bernard Amyot. “We do not deny that some of those detained at Guantanamo may have committed criminal acts. If so, they should be tried by a properly constituted court operating under rules that guarantee a fair trial.”

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