About 520 people are being held at Guantanamo Bay

09 November 2005 :

Canadian diplomats sought a promise from the Pentagon that it would not seek to execute a teenager being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The efforts came following an announcement by the Pentagon of five more war-crimes court indictments, notably of Toronto-born Omar Khadr, who was 15 when he was captured in Afghanistan, and was to be charged with murder as an "unprivileged belligerent." Khadr's detention at Guantanamo had sparked an outcry among some international and human rights lawyers who said that, as a juvenile, Khadr was entitled to special treatment under the Laws of War. "Under international law, when a country finds children in the battlefield, they are to be treated differently than anyone else. They are supposed to remove them, rehabilitate them and return them to a place of safety," said American University law professor Muneer Ahmad, who was suing the Bush administration in the US District Court in Washington for the teen's release and return to his mother in Canada.
At the same time, Canadian diplomats were working with both the US State and Defense departments to get "the death penalty off the table," said embassy spokesman Jasmine Panthaky.
"We are seeking a firm assurance that Mr. Khadr, who was a child when the alleged acts took place, will not be subject to the death penalty," she said from the Canadian Embassy in Washington.
In addition, Canada was seeking a consular visit with the teenager; a Canadian official last saw him in March at Guantanamo.
The military alleges that Khadr, while fighting on behalf of the Taliban, tossed a grenade that killed a US Special Forces medic, planted mines to target US convoys and gathered surveillance for the enemy.

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