Chris Selley Slams Levant over Khadr
Chris Selley of the National Post gives Ezra Levant a pretty good thrashing over his recent op-ed over Omar Khadr:
In a column published in various Sun Media papers earlier this week, Ezra Levant presented “some facts about [Omar] Khadr.” The facts were as follows: (1) there are photographs of Mr. Khadr apparently doing bad things on behalf of Taliban insurgents; (2) Canadian lawyers seem to care a lot more about Mr. Khadr than they do about, say, Chinese-Canadian political prisoner Huseyin Celil; (3) Article 38 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child makes it “clear” that “15-year-olds are not child soldiers”; (4) Mr. Khadr wasn’t a soldier at all, as defined by the Geneva Conventions; and (5) “no one cared [about him] until the Conservatives were elected.”
Mr. Levant’s argument is quite ingenious. It’s almost like a living thing: You can throw a counterargument at it, but it’ll just bob and weave and emerge as a different argument. For example, you could point out that, unfortunately, he’s misread the UN’s intentions on child soldiers. Article 38 of the Convention only applies to “States Parties,” and the Taliban insurgency is quite obviously neither a state nor a party to the Convention. Any honest reader of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the involvement of children in armed conflict would have to conclude it intends the term “child soldier” to apply to anyone under 18.
At which point, Mr. Levant could refer you to Fact No. 4: Mr. Khadr’s child soldier status is irrelevant, because he wasn’t a soldier at all — an opinion shared by notable international law expert Stephen Harper, incidentally, who opined last year that “to be a child soldier, you have to be in an army.”
But, you might then protest, look at Article 4 of the Optional Protocol: “Armed groups that are distinct from the armed forces of a State should not, under any circumstances, recruit or use in hostilities persons under the age of 18.” And look at the United States’ written declaration that it understands the term “armed groups” in Article 4 to mean “nongovernmental armed groups such as rebel groups, dissident armed forces, and other insurgent groups” — wording that clearly includes the gang Mr. Khadr was running with. And look here at Article 7, which commits States Parties to “the rehabilitation and social reintegration of persons who are victims of acts contrary [to the Protocol].” Clearly, you might argue, Omar Khadr was a child soldier as defined by both common sense and a United Nations document ratified by both Canada and the United States. And you’d be right.
Perhaps Levant should stick to bankrupting newspapers, instead of opining on international law.