Supreme Court denies government leave to appeal Khadr case

The Supreme Court of Canada today denied leave to appeal from the decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal to deny the extradition to the United States of Abdullah Khadr, the older brother of Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr.

In seeking leave, the federal government was acting on behalf of the U.S. government, which sought Khadr’s extradition in order to prosecute him in America on terrorism charges. The Ontario Court of Appeal, whose judgment has been preserved today, found that Khadr could not be extradited because his treatment by the U.S. during his stay at a detention camp in Pakistan violated the principles of fundamental justice; as a result, extraditing Khadr to such a state would threaten the integrity of the court.  As Justice Sharpe of the ONCA wrote, “the rule of law must prevail even in the face of the dreadful threat of terrorism.”

While leave to appeal decisions are not accompanied by reasons, by denying leave the Supreme Court has deemed that the legal issues on appeal do not rise to the level of an issue of “national importance,” which is the standard required to grant leave.

Solicitor-Client Privilege Lost in Guantanamo Bay

It is no secret that detainees at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay do not enjoy a particularly robust bundle of rights, even for prisoners. But recently, they have been stripped of one right they did have, that of attorney-client privilege.

According to a new report, lawyers for Guantanamo Bay detainees have complained to the US Ministry of Defense that their mail to clients, clearly marked as privileged, is now being regularly read by employees at the detention facility. Previous protocol had been to open the mail in front of the detainees to ensure it was free of contraband, but to leave it otherwise unread.

The lawyers indicated that they plan to litigate such due process violations to the fullest extent.

Human Rights Tribunal cannot award legal costs: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Canada has released its decision in Canada (Canadian Human Rights Commission) v. Canada (Attorney General), unanimously ruling that the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal does not have the authority to make an award for the legal costs of a complainant.

The appellant Donna Mowat, the victim of sexual discrimination as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, had been awarded $4,000 in damages and $47,000 in costs by the Tribunal. The Supreme Court, in upholding the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal, found that legal costs cannot be considered “expenses incurred by the victim as a result of the discriminatory practice,” for which the Tribunal can award costs pursuant sections 53(2)(c) and (d) the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Read the full decision here.

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