Foreign Policy Blogs

Omar Khadr and Salim Hamdan face Guantanamo tribunals

Salim Hamdan, bin Ladens personal bodyguard and driver, and Omar Khadr will face a US war crimes tribunal at the naval detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba today. Hamdan's case has surfaced in the Supreme Court in the past. The Court in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld ruled that the military commission invoked by President Bush was unconstitutional, spurring Congress to invoke legislation to establish the current tribunal system there. As part of this legislation, Congress revoked the rights normally protected by the US Constitution for suspected militants in US custody .

Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen, is being charged with the murder of a US soldier. He was captured at a suspected al Qa’ida training camp in Afghanistan. He was 15 at the time. Khadr, now 20, would be classified as a child soldier under international conventions. The internationally recognized age of legal conscription is 18 years old. Khadr's legal counsel is urging that age appropriate measures be considered in his case. The US has stated it will not seek a life sentence or the death penalty due to Khadr's age at the time of his alleged crimes. The US prosecution of Khadr mark the first time a child soldier will face charges at a war crimes tribunal – a precedent not even practiced by the special tribunals for the Sierra Leone. International conventions typically recognize child soldiers as victims, not perpetrators, of war crimes.

AP UPDATE: GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba: In a stunning reversal for the Bush administration's attempts to try Guantanamo detainees in military court, a military judge on Monday dismissed terrorism-related charges against a prisoner charged with killing an American soldier in Afghanistan.




Daniel Graeber

Daniel Graeber is a writer for United Press International covering Iraq, Afghanistan and the broader Levant. He has published works on international and constitutional law pertaining to US terrorism cases and on child soldiers. His first major work, entitled The United States and Israel: The Implications of Alignment, is featured in the text, Strategic Interests in the Middle East: Opposition or Support for US Foreign Policy. He holds a MA in Diplomacy and International Conflict Management from Norwich University, where his focus was international relations theory, international law, and the role of non-state actors.

Areas of Focus:International law; Middle East; Government and Politics; non-state actors