The Attorney General for British Columbia [official website] on Tuesday blocked a lawsuit [CCIJ press release] filed by the Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ) [advocacy website] against US president George W. Bush [JURIST news archive] on torture allegations. Lawyers from both CCIJ and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) [advocacy website] responded with disappointment to the blocked lawsuit and order that the proceedings be stayed. Matt Eisenbrandt, legal director of the CCIJ, said, "[t]he legal basis for the case is exceptionally strong under the Criminal Code of Canada, and this private prosecution was initiated because the government of Canada refused to prosecute." The complaint [text, PDF] was filed [JURIST report] in Surrey Provincial Court on behalf of three former Guantanamo detainees and one man still being held in Guantanamo, who has been there for more than nine years. CCIJ filed the complaint prior to Bush's visit to Surrey for a speaking engagement with former US president Bill Clinton. Various human rights groups have called for an investigation of Bush's role in allegedly sanctioning torture of detainees.
Last week, Bush was in Surrey to attend the Surrey Regional Economic Summit [official website]. According to the CCIJ, the four men, three of whom have since been released without any formal charges ever being brought against them, endured "horrific and illegal" treatment while being detained at military bases in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. CCIJ alleges that Bush violated the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT) [text]. The CCIJ and CCR initially filed an indictment against Bush [JURIST report] in September accusing Bush of sanctioning enforced disappearances, secret detention and a variety of acts of torture. Earlier in October, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy websites] urged the Canadian government to investigate and arrest [JURIST report] Bush for his role in torture.