The Khadr verdict

The Supreme Court has ruled that Omar Khadr’s rights have been violated, but that the Court will not, at this time, order the federal government to request his repatriation. The full ruling is here.

K is entitled to a remedy under s. 24(1) of the Charter.  The remedy sought by K — an order that Canada request his repatriation — is sufficiently connected to the Charter breach that occurred in 2003 and 2004 because of the continuing effect of this breach into the present and its possible effect on K’s ultimate trial.  While the government must have flexibility in deciding how its duties under the royal prerogative over foreign relations are discharged, the executive is not exempt from constitutional scrutiny.  Courts have the jurisdiction and the duty to determine whether a prerogative power asserted by the Crown exists; if so, whether its exercise infringes the Charter or other constitutional norms; and, where necessary, to give specific direction to the executive branch of the government.  Here, the trial judge misdirected himself in ordering the government to request K’s repatriation, in view of the constitutional responsibility of the executive to make decisions on matters of foreign affairs and the inconclusive state of the record.  The appropriate remedy in this case is to declare that K’s Charter rights were violated, leaving it to the government to decide how best to respond in light of current information, its responsibility over foreign affairs, and the Charter.

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