An open letter to Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety of Ottowa

Vic Toews
Minister of Public Safety
Suite 306
Justice Building
House of Commons
Ottawa, Canada
K1A 0A6

 Minister Toews,

 As a public official, you must act in an ethical manner whenever possible, and your action in the case of Omar Khadr’s request for a media interview neither serves the interest of public safety nor the people’s will. Omar’s case is that of a child combatant who was illegally imprisoned – and tortured by being held in solitary confinement. His case is not unique, and that is why it’s so important for all of us that he has access to the media to tell his story. Your decision to overrule the warden’s approval of Omar’s application for a prison interview is unfortunate, a decision that is highly unusual and stretches the bounds of your authority. Only recently you reassured Canadians that decisions related to the future of Omar Khadr would be determined by Correctional Services Canada independent of government involvement. Political interference in the judicial process threatens the foundations of our democracy, Mr. Toews. I therefore urge you immediately rectify your actions by:

 1. Allowing the warden’s decision to take precedence and allow media access to Omar Khadr.

 2. End the complicity of Canadian government officials in the ongoing violation of Omar Khadr’s human rights that are protected by international law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

 Almost 800 years ago, The Magna Carta was signed, condemning imprisonment without trial. Omar entered prison as a child combatant, and was held in prison for years before signing a confession under duress – a threat of indefinite imprisonment. His supposed guilt is meaningless under any definition of modern law since the Magna Carta, since he had no due process. Omar – and any other child combatant from that period – should be freed immediately and given recompensation for his illegal imprisonment at the hands of the US military. Anything less undermines people’s faith in their governments and the people sworn to public service such as yourself. The Canadian government’s complicity is also a shameful matter. Your own complicity in the continued undermining of Omar’s basic rights is unfortunate.

Brian Russell


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