During the administration of former US president George W. Bush [JURIST news archive], the US government tortured opponents of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive] and transferred them to Libya, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] announced in a report [PDF] released Wednesday. The report, entitled "Delivered Into Enemy Hands: US-Led Abuse and Rendition of Opponents to Gaddafi's Libya," details the ill-treatment and torture, including instances of waterboarding, of detainees in US custody. The information contained in the report comes from detainees who have since been liberated, as well as documents and files uncovered after the fall of the Gaddafi regime. HRW documented instances of rendition to countries with known torture practices, with inadequate procedural standards and where detainees were held in incommunicado detention. The report also examines the roles that other national governments played in the abuse of detainees and unlawful renditions. HRW made recommendations to the US government and the various national governments scrutinized in the report to investigate allegations of torture and abuse, acknowledge past injustices and take steps to end the use of torture.
Bush and other national leaders have come under fire for allegedly engaging in torture and human rights abuses. Earlier this week Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu [backgrounder] called for [JURIST report] Bush and former UK prime minister Tony Blair [JURIST news archives] to stand trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] for their roles in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In February 2011 the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the European Center for Human Rights (ECCHR) [advocacy websites] urged [JURIST report] the signatory states of the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT) [text] to pursue criminal charges [press release] against Bush. In July 2010 HRW urged the Obama administration to begin a criminal investigation [JURIST report] into alleged detainee abuses authorized by the Bush administration following the 9/11 terrorist attacks [JURIST backgrounder]. Other calls to investigate the criminal culpability of Bush and officials in his administration have been rejected consistently by US officials [JURIST report].