War on Terror Takes Down Human Rights – Edney
THUNDER BAY – Dennis Edney, the noted lawyer for Omar Khadr spoke in Thunder Bay on Friday night. The talk, “The Rule of Law in an Age of Fear”, outlined concerns on how since the September 11 2001 terror attacks, that many governments around the world, including Canada have put freedoms, civil liberties and the rule of law on the backburner in the ongoing effort to fight terror.
“Human rights are called into question when legal protections are under attack,” stated Edney.
Pointing to the 2016 Anti-Terror Act passed by the Canadian Government, Edney told the audience is “a dangerously vague act that fails to respect freedoms and safety”. The legislation strips away rights long recognized under law, including the right not to be detained without due process.
Edney said that the legislation gives unprecedented powers to CSIS making it “More like a secret police force”.
“You cannot compromise on the rule of law when it comes to civil liberties,” Edney told the Lakehead University audience which included a large number of law students. The Alberta based defense attorney also chided professors from the Law School asking students to ask them why they were not at the talk.
Edney is noted for his involvement in high-profile cases, including Brian Mills, R. v. Trang, as defence attorney for Abdullah and Omar Khadr, who were captured in the War on Terror, for Fahim Ahmad, and for representing the entire Khadr family.
Sharing some of the path to justice for Omar Khadr, Edney told the audience that the young man, captured in Afghanistan when he was 15 years old, had undergone long periods of abusive interrogation, including sexual abuse at the hands of American jailers at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, in Cuba.
Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Edney says was chosen by the United States under then President George W. Bush because it removed prisoners from legal protections, international agreements including the Geneva Convention, United Nations Rights of the Child, and historical rights under the law, including the United States Constitution.
Khadr was interrogated for six hours at a time, twenty to twenty-five times over his first ninety days in captivity at Guantanamo Bay. Edney says that through that time, often chained to his bed that sexual abuse was a constant part of the enhanced techniques used by his guard.
Edney contends that the Canadian Government went along with the Americans in the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.
Edney has represented Omar Khadr and his family pro bono – without fees for fourteen years.
Through those years, he has come to realize, and speak out on human rights. His legal efforts have come to show him “How easy it is to lose one’s humanity”.
Dennis Edney left the audience at Lakehead University with a message, “Don’t be apathetic, get up off your bums, challenge your politicians. You have to express your power”.
“Understand there are things you can not allow”.
It was a strong message, one that was received very well by the audience in Thunder Bay.