Lawyers Against the War calls for prosecution of George W. Bush ahead of Surrey visit
A legal group has advised the RCMP that it has a “duty” to arrest former U.S. president George W. Bush when he visits Surrey this month. In an October 11 letter to the Mounties, Lawyers Against the War cofounder Gail Davidson cited “widely available” documented evidence of Bush’s “complicity in the widespread use of torture by the United States”.
Her letter was sent to four Mounties, including Commissioner William Elliott and Insp. Denis Roy, who oversees the crimes against humanity and war crimes division.
Under the Criminal Code of Canada, torture carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison. “Aiding, abetting and counselling the use of torture are also offences,” Davidson explained. “Torture is also a crime under the Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Act.”
Furthermore, she noted, the Criminal Code applies to torture-related crimes committed outside Canada—and anyone who steps on Canadian soil and who has committed torture is liable to face prosecution, regardless of their nationality. In emphasizing the legal case against Bush, she quoted Maj.-Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, author of the U.S. Army’s 2004 internal report on events at the Abu Ghraib detention centre in Baghdad: “the Commander-in-Chief [Bush] and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture.…After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current [Bush] administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.”
Bush and former U.S. president Bill Clinton are scheduled to attend the Surrey Regional Economic Summit, which takes place at the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. next Thursday (October 20). Surrey mayor Dianne Watts is the honorary chair.
Acting as a private prosecutor in 2004, Davidson laid seven charges for torture-related offences against Bush during one of his official visits to Canada, but they were later declared a nullity by provincial court judge William Kitchen. At the time, Bush enjoyed immunity as a head of state.
At a September 29 news conference in Vancouver, Center for Constitutional Rights senior lawyer Katherine Gallagher said that Bush lost that legal protection after he left office. Matt Eisenbrandt, legal director of the Canadian Centre for International Justice, said at the same news conference that his group will support survivors of torture in laying a private prosecution against Bush if the government refuses to act.