Frank Jordans / The Independent & Amnesty International & Center for Constitutional Rights – 2011-02-07 21:46:12
Anywhere in the world he travels,
George W Bush could face potential prosecution
Bush Visit to Switzerland Cancelled over Security Fears
Frank Jordans in Geneva
GENEVA (February 6, 2011) — A visit to Switzerland by the former US president George W Bush planned for this week has been cancelled due to security concerns after left-wing groups called for mass protests and rights activists proposed legal action against him for allegedly ordering the torture of terrorism suspects.
Mr Bush’s spokesman, David Sherzer, said the former president was informed by the United Israel Appeal that his speech on Saturday in Geneva had been called off. Yesterday’s edition of the Swiss daily Tribune de GenÃ¨ve quoted the Jewish charity’s lawyer, Robert Equey, as saying: “The calls to demonstrate were sliding into dangerous terrain. The organisers claimed to be able to maintain order, but warned they could not be held responsible for any outbursts.”
Protest organisers had called for participants to each bring a shoe to the rally outside the lakeside Hotel Wilson — named after another US president, Woodrow Wilson — where the dinner was to be held. The shoes were to recall the time an Iraqi journalist threw his own footwear at Mr Bush during a news conference in Baghdad in 2008.
Mr Equey told the Tribune that attempts by human-rights groups to submit legal complaints against Mr Bush to Swiss prosecutors had not played a part in the decision to cancel the visit.
Human rights groups including Amnesty International and the Center for Constitutional Rights had planned to ask Swiss prosecutors to open a criminal investigation against Mr Bush over the admission that he authorised the waterboarding of terrorism suspects.
“Whatever Bush or his hosts say, we have no doubt he cancelled his trip to avoid our case,” the Center for Constitutional Rights, and others, said in a statement.
President Bush Cancels Visit to Switzerland
(February 6, 2011) — Former US president George W. Bush has cancelled a planned visit to Geneva on February 12, according to reports in the Tribune de GenÃ¨ve newspaper. The cancellation comes ahead of expected protests and possible legal action against the former president.
On Friday, Amnesty International sent Genevoise and Swiss federal prosecutors a detailed factual and legal analysis of President Bush’s criminal responsibility for acts of torture he is believed to have authorised. Amnesty International concluded that Switzerland had enough information to open a criminal investigation against the former president. Such an investigation would be mandatory under Switzerlandâ€™s international obligations if President Bush entered the country.
The organisers of the event President Bush was expected to attend told the Tribune de GenÃ¨ve that they decided to cancel the visit because of the “controversy” it has generated. They denied that the potential criminal investigations against the former president were a factor in the decision.
Amnesty International has repeatedly called on US authorities to investigate the responsibility of the highest US officials for torture, and of President Bush in particular, most recently after the publication of his memoirs in November. The USA has failed to open investigations that can adequately examine the former president’s potential criminal responsibility for these acts, and all indications are that it will not do so.
“To date, weâ€™ve seen a handful of military investigations into detentions and interrogations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and GuantÃ¡namo. But none of these has had the independence and reach necessary to investigate high-level officials such as President Bush,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International. “Meanwhile, there has been virtually zero accountability for crimes committed in the CIA’s secret detention program, which was authorized by then-President Bush.”
Anywhere in the world that he travels, President Bush could face investigation and potential prosecution for his responsibility for torture and other crimes in international law, particularly in any of the 147 countries that are party to the UN Convention against Torture. “As the US authorities have, so far, failed to bring President Bush to justice, the international community must step in,” said Salil Shetty.
G.W. Bush Cancels Europe Speech
To Avoid Prosecution, Protest
Center for Constitutional Rights
â€œCCR, with the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), have spent weeks preparing a 2,500 page torture case against Bush that would have been filed on Monday, February 7 â€“ the anniversary of the day, nine years ago, when Bush decided the Geneva Conventions didnâ€™t apply to â€˜enemy combatants.â€™ Bush was due to be in Geneva on the 12th, and his presence on Swiss territory is required for the prosecutor to take action.
â€œThe complaint, brought under the Convention Against Torture with the support of 50 NGOs, two former UN Special Rapporteurs on Torture and two Nobel Prize winners, was on behalf of two torture victims, one who is still at GuantÃ¡namo.
â€œWhatever Bush or his hosts say, we have no doubt he cancelled his trip to avoid our case. The message from civil society is clear â€“ If youâ€™re a torturer, be careful in your travel plans. Itâ€™s a slow process for accountability, but we keep going.â€
In the Guardian UK today:
The visit would have been Bushâ€™s first to Europe since he admitted in his autobiography, Decision Points, in November that he had authorised the use of waterboarding â€“ simulated drowning â€“ on detainees at GuantÃ¡namo accused of links with al-Qaida. Whether out of concern over the protests or the arrest warrant, it is an extraordinary development for a former US president to have his travel plans curtailed in this way, and amounts to a victory for human rights campaigners.
Reuters reports today in Bushâ€™s Swiss visit off after complaints on torture:
Bush, in his â€œDecision Pointsâ€ memoirs on his 2001-2009 presidency, strongly defends the use of waterboarding as key to preventing a repeat of the September 11 attacks on the United States.
Most human rights experts consider the practice a form of torture, banned by the Convention on Torture, an international pact prohibiting torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment. Switzerland and the United States are among 147 countries to have ratified the 1987 treaty.
Bush was to speak at a Jewish charity function. McClatchy newspapers report:
â€œProtest organizers told participants to bring an extra shoe, prompting fears that someone might re-enact an Iraqi journalistâ€™s 2008 assault on President Bush in Baghdad. The reporter hurled his own footwear as a sign of contempt.â€
Whether the threat of prosecution or the threat of determined mass protest caused the cancellation of Bushâ€™s visit, itâ€™s a sign that people are paying attention, and acting on the necessity of holding Bush accountable for war crimes.
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