Democracy Has Prevailed.

May 25, 2012

For Our Friends Up North

From the AP via the CBC:
Amnesty International is criticizing Canada for its refusal to arrest former U.S. president George W. Bush during a visit to British Columbia last year.

The human rights group says there was clear evidence that Bush was responsible for crimes under international law, including torture.

Amnesty had campaigned for Canada to arrest and prosecute him.

At the time of Bush's visit last October, the group maintained the former president authorized the use of torture against detainees at the Guantanamo Bay naval base, in Afghanistan and Iraq.

As a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, Amnesty says Canada has an obligation to take action against alleged violators, including Bush.
This is what Amnesty International said in its report:
In October, the government failed to arrest former US President George W. Bush when he travelled to British Columbia, despite clear evidence that he was responsible for crimes under international law, including torture.
All the facts are outlined here.  Some highlights:
1. Acts of torture (and, it may be noted, other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and enforced disappearance) were committed against detainees held in a secret detention and interrogation program operated by the USA’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) between 2002 and 2009.

2. The CIA established this secret program under the authorization of then-President George W.Bush.

3. Since leaving office, former President George W. Bush has said that he authorized the use of a number of “enhanced interrogation techniques” against detainees held in the secret CIA program. The former President specifically admitted to authorizing the “water-boarding” of identified individuals, whose subjection to this torture technique has been confirmed.
And so on.

By the way, here's what Amnesty International had to say about the US regarding the torture:
There was no accountability for human rights violations committed under the administration of President George W. Bush as part of the CIA’s programme of secret detention and rendition (transfer of individuals from the custody of one state to another by means that bypass judicial and administrative due process).
In an opinion issued in October, a federal judge refused to hold the CIA in contempt of court for destroying videotapes of interrogations of detainees held in the secret detention programme. The tapes – which included recordings of the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques”, including “waterboarding” – had been destroyed in 2005, more than a year after the court had ordered the government to produce or identify materials relating to the treatment of detainees.
Back to Canada.

The Toronto Star tries to put things in context:
Canada’s record of alleged human rights violations pales in comparison to the litany of torture, mass executions, and violent suppression of protests cited against countries like Syria and Uganda.

But Amnesty Canada spokesman John Tackaberry says the organization makes no attempt to rate the magnitude or seriousness of human rights abuses among the 155 nations listed in the 2012 report.

Rather, it includes any country in which there’s a “constellation” of violations that cause concern.
And Kelly McPartland of the National Post offers up a slice of Canadian snark:
The latest report, issued Wednesday, makes clear that the world has let Amnesty down. Again. The world — yes, the whole thing, all seven billion of us — is a constant disappointment to the people at Amnesty International, who just can’t figure out why we can’t measure up to a few simple rules.

The United Nations is denounced as essentially useless because it hasn’t managed to halt the bloodshed in Syria. Canada is condemned because we didn’t arrest George W. Bush when we had the chance. It has no time for the United States, because it keeps using drones to kill terrorists, without asking permission. The raid that finally ended the life of Osama bin Laden was illegal. Israel is, as always, a favourite target, accused of continuing its brutal treatment of Palestinians, and imposing a “blockade” of Gaza and its 1.6 million residents. Mexico makes the list for failing to protect human rights in its war against drugs. Even Switzerland gets a cuffing for its treatment of asylum-seekers, especially a pair of Nigerians who were treated badly when they landed in the country.
Since everyone's bad, no one's bad should be pointed out.  None of which changes the fact that the torture was ordered, the torture occurred, the torture was covered up and the torture has yet to be prosecuted or punished.

O Canada! Where pines and maples grow (but where they won't prosecute the torture).

But that's OK, I guess.  Because neither do we.

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