The Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ) [advocacy website] on Thursday filed a complaint [text, PDF] in the Surrey Provincial Court on behalf of four men against former US president George W. Bush [JURIST news archive] on torture charges [press release]. Bush was in Surrey on Thursday 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]. Former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, stated:
The main aim of the [CAT] was to eradicate safe havens for persons who commit, order, or participate in acts of torture worldwide. States parties to the Convention, including Canada, have a legal obligation to arrest all persons suspected of torture with the aim of bringing them to justice. There is plenty of evidence that President Bush authorized enhanced interrogation methods against suspected terrorists, some of which clearly amount to torture, such as waterboarding.The CCIJ, along with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) [advocacy website] 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.
Calls for the investigation or arrest of former president Bush have largely been rejected. In February, the CCR and the European Center for Human Rights (ECCHR) [advocacy websites] urged the signatory states of the CAT to pursue criminal charges against the former president [JURIST report]. The call came as the rights groups announced that two criminal complaints [text, PDF] were to be filed in Switzerland against Bush before he canceled his trip to the country. Calls to investigate the criminal culpability of Bush and officials in his administration have been consistently rejected by US officials [JURIST report]. In November, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] urged US Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate Bush for violation of the federal statute prohibiting torture [18 USC § 2340A]. Also citing his memoir, the ACLU argued that the use of waterboarding has historically been prosecuted as a crime in the US. The letter also argued that failure to investigate Bush would harm the US's ability to advocate for human rights in other countries. Bush's secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld [JURIST news archive] has also faced possible criminal charges in Europe, when, in 2007, a war crimes complaint was filed against him [JURIST report] in Germany for his involvement in detainee treatment. The case was later dismissed [JURIST report].