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.If the arc of this story sounds familiar, it's because it is. In February, we reported on a trip Bush canceled to Switzerland. And linked to this bit from the Huffingtonpost:
Former U.S. President George W. Bush has cancelled a visit to Switzerland, where he was to address a Jewish charity gala, due to the risk of legal action against him for alleged torture, rights groups said on Saturday.The CCR was among those groups:
On February 7, 2011, two torture victims were to have filed criminal complaints for torture against former president George W. Bush in Geneva, who was due to speak at an event there on February 12th. On the eve of the filing of the complaints, George Bush cancelled his trip. Swiss law requires the presence of the alleged torturer on Swiss soil before a preliminary investigation can be open. The complaints could not be filed after Bush cancelled, as the basis for jurisdiction no longer existed.This time it's Canada:
“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.”You can read the indictment here.
“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.”
Section II (page 34) spells out the Canadian Jurisdiction over tortuers. Pointing out that torture is illegal in Canada. It also points out (page 36) that:
Notwithstanding anything in this Act or any other Act, every one who, outside Canada, commits an act or omission that, if committed in Canada, would constitute an offence against, a conspiracy or an attempt to commit an offence against, being an accessory after the fact in relation to an offence against, or any counselling in relation to an offence against, section 269.1 shall be deemed to commit that act or omission in Canada if...(d) the complainant is a Canadian citizen; or (e) the person who commits the act or omission is, after the commission thereof, present in Canada. [emphasis added.]And Bush is scheduled to be there on October 20.
Maybe Canadian law will do what the Obama Administration has so far refused to do, prosecute the Bush torture. To do so would be to merely follow the law.
Yes, it is that simple.