[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy websites] on Wednesday urged the Canadian government to investigate [HRW press release] and arrest [AI press release] former US president George W. Bush [JURIST news archive] for his role in torture, ahead of his travel to an economic summit in British Colombia next week. AI’s submission [text, PDF] to Canadian authorities emphasizes Bush’s authorization of “enhanced interrogation techniques” [Business Review Canada report] including waterboarding, which Bush has admitted. Pressing obligations under international law, HRW urged:
There is overwhelming evidence that Bush and other senior administration officials authorized and implemented a regime of torture and ill-treatment of hundreds of detainees in US custody, including at least two Canadian citizens. Under the Convention against Torture, Canada is obligated to prosecute individuals suspected of committing torture found in its territory if other countries have failed to do so. The Obama administration has failed to investigate allegations of involvement in torture by Bush or other senior administration officials, and none are expected.
The Canadian government has rejected [Reuters report] AI’s call to arrest the former head of state calling it a cheap stunt.
Calls for the investigation or arrest of former president Bush have largely been rejected. In February, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the European Center for Human Rights (ECCHR) [advocacy websites] urged the signatory states of the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT) [text] 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].