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Video of child detainee a disgraceful reminder to shut down Guantanamo: Greens

Media Release
Sarah Hanson-Young 16 Jul 2008

The Australian Greens have renewed calls to have US military prison
Guantanamo Bay shut down following the release of footage from an
interrogation with the prison’s youngest detainee, Omar Khadr, who was
only 15 years old at the time of his capture.

“The lawlessness and injustice being applied in Guantanamo Bay is
inexcusable, and this footage provides even more evidence as to why the
US military commission is fundamentally flawed, and why Guantanamo Bay
must be shut down immediately,” said Greens Senator for South Australia
Sarah Hanson-Young.

“Like Australia, the US has an obligation to treat children
differently to the way they treat adults. Omar Khadr was only 15 when
he was captured by the US military in Afghanistan and has passed his
16th, 17th & 18th birthday in virtual isolation.  He is now 21 and
after six years he is still being held in the US prison camp without
charge. 

In the footage released yesterday, Omar, who is 16 at the time of
the interrogation, is shown crying, calling out for help and showing
his wounds to the interrogators. He is also shown as being without
legal representation.

“The failure to recognise Omar as a minor and treat him accordingly
is a violation of international standards and contravenes the US’s
obligations under international law,” said Senator Hanson-Young.

“The fact that the military commission has no juvenile justice
provisions, despite the imprisonment of several detainees who were
children at the time of their alleged crimes, is a major failure of
justice. 

“Furthermore the failure to charge detainees, who like Omar have
been imprisoned without charge for six years, is a blatant abuse of
human rights and undermines any type of proper justice.

“If there is evidence, Omar should be charged immediately and put on
trial by an ordinary court where juvenile justice provisions can be
adhered to.  Otherwise he must be released,” she said.

The Greens Senator said Australia must not stay silent about such flagrant abuses of human rights.

“It is time for the Labor Government to stay true to its commitment
to human rights made while in Opposition, and urge the Bush
Administration to close down Guantanamo Bay, reinforcing, that no
state, regardless of their military might, has the authority to rise
above the rule of law,” concluded Senator Hanson-Young.

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