Stephen C. Webster
Even out of power and away from the White House, former President George W. Bush seemingly cannot get away from calls for his prosecution.
The latest outcry comes from a Canadian attorney with Lawyers Against the War, who said she will file a suit against Bush and bar his entry to Canada over alleged war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Former President Bush plans a visit to Canada on March 17 for a speaking engagement at Calgary, on invite from the city’s chamber of commerce.
“In a letter to the [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] war crimes section and copied to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff and other federal ministers and opposition MPs, the Lawyers Against the War group claims that Bush is ‘inadmissible to Canada . . . because of overwhelming evidence that he has committed, outside Canada, torture and other offences’ as detailed in Canada’s War Crimes Act,” reported Canada.com.
The letter (PDF link) asks the mounted police to “begin an investigation of George W. Bush for aiding, abetting and counseling torture between November 13, 2001 and November 2008 at Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, Bagram prison in Afghanistan and other places.”
“The letter also alleges that Bush has engaged in ‘systematic or gross human rights violations, or a war crime or a crime against humanity’ under subsections 6(3) to 6(5) of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act,” reported Straight.com.
Lawyers Against the War has been pursuing similar tactics for years. The group’s Web site, which appears to have not been updated in the last five years, carries prior letters the organization has posted to Canadian officials.
“Surely you are aware of the many grave crimes against humanity and war crimes for which President Bush stands properly accused by the world, starting with the Nuremberg Tribunal’s ‘supreme international crime’ of waging an aggressive war against Iraq in defiance of international law and the Charter of the United Nations,” begins a letter to then Prime Minister Paul Martin, written in 2004.
“As recently as November 16, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and former war crimes prosecutor Louise Arbour called for an investigation into crimes against the Geneva Conventions in the assault by US forces on the densely populated city of Fallujah,” the author notes.
“The federal government is keeping silent on the upcoming visit,” reported Canadian magazine See. “‘We have no comments to offer on the visit of Mr. George W. Bush to Calgary,’ said Foreign Affairs spokesperson Alain Cacchione in an e-mail. When told about Davidson’s letter, a spokesperson with the Canadian Border Services Agency said ‘we wouldn’t comment on something like that.'”
“[Lawyers Against the War’s Gayle] Davidson noted that the B.C. Court of Appeal has ruled that a private prosecution of this nature cannot proceed to a first hearing without the consent of the federal attorney general, who is Robert Nicholson,” reported Straight.com.
“We can assume that he won’t,” she told the Web site. “So the next step would be to take an application to the Federal Court of Canada seeking an order of mandamus compelling the attorney general to give his consent.”