September 29, 2011, Vancouver – Today, the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ) lodged a detailed and lengthy indictment setting forth the case against former U.S. president George W. Bush with the Attorney General of Canada, urging him to open a criminal investigation against Bush for his role in authorizing and overseeing his administration’s well-documented torture program. Bush will visit Surrey, British Columbia on October 20th, as a paid speaker at the Surrey Regional Economic Summit at the invitation of Surrey Mayor Diane Watts.
Earlier this year, CCR, supported by CCIJ and more than 60 international human rights organizations, called on Swiss authorities to prosecute Bush for torture based on his own admission that he authorized torture and the plethora of evidence in the public domain setting out his role in the U.S. torture program. However, Bush canceled his February trip to Switzerland at the last minute, a move that many speculated was motivated by fear of arrest.
“George Bush has openly admitted that he approved the use of torture against men held in U.S. custody,” said Katherine Gallagher, Senior Staff Attorney at CCR. “Despite this admission, no country has been willing to investigate and prosecute Bush’s criminal acts, leaving the victims of his torture policies without any justice or accountability. Canada is a signatory to the Convention Against Torture, and has an obligation to investigate Bush for his leadership role in the U.S. torture program. Torturers – even if they are former presidents of the United States – must be held to account and prosecuted. We urge Canada to put an end to impunity for Bush.”
“Canada has a strong legal framework and there is absolutely no ambiguity in our criminal code when it comes to committing or allowing torture,” said Matt Eisenbrandt, Legal Director of CCIJ. “There is grave evidence that former President Bush sanctioned and authorized acts of torture, not only in violation of Canadian laws, but also of international treaties that Canada has ratified. It is therefore clear that our government has both the jurisdiction and the obligation to prosecute Bush should he set foot again on Canadian territory.”
According to the indictment submitted to the Attorney General for his action, former President Bush bears individual and command responsibility for the acts of his subordinates, which he ordered, authorized, condoned, or otherwise aided and abetted, as well as for violations committed by his subordinates, which he failed to prevent or punish. In particular, Bush is alleged to have authorized or overseen enforced disappearance and secret detention, exposure to extreme temperatures, sleep deprivation, punching, kicking, isolation in “coffin” cells for prolonged periods, threats of bad treatment, solitary confinement, and forced nudity.
One hundred and forty-seven countries, including Canada and the United States, are party to the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT), meaning that those countries have committed to promptly investigate, prosecute, and punish torturers. While the U.S. has thus far failed to comply with its obligations under the CAT, all other signatories are similarly obligated to prosecute or extradite for prosecution anyone present in their territory who they reasonably believe has committed torture. If the evidence warrants, as the Bush indictment contends it does, and if the U.S. fails to request that Bush be extradited to face charges of torture, Canada must, under law, prosecute him for torture.
The Canadian Centre for International Justice works with survivors of genocide, torture and other atrocities to seek redress and bring perpetrators to justice. The CCIJ seeks to ensure that individuals present in Canada who are accused of responsibility for serious human rights violations are held accountable and their victims recognized, supported and compensated. For more information visit www.ccij.ca