FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Prosecuting Bush in Canada for Torture

On Monday, October 17th Gail Davidson and Howard Rubin along with Jason Gratl and Micheal Vonn representing B.C. Civil Liberties stepped into courtroom 55 of the BC Supreme Court in Vancouver with the hopes of lifting the publication ban which, since December of 2004 August, has kept the case out of the public eye. After a relatively short session of 45 minutes they emerged successful. “I don’t know that I would call it a victory quite yet,” said Ms. Davidson, “but it is at least a step in the right direction. People deserve to know what is happening here.”
What is happening is that Ms. Davidson and Lawyers Against the War have laid charges against George Bush Jr; accusing him of aiding, abetting, and counseling the commission of torture. This charge is based on the abuses of the prisoners held at the U.S. prisons in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba and Abu-Ghraib, Iraq including Canadian minor Omar Khadr, who has been held in Cuba since 2001.

“Many Canadians don’t realize that we have not only the right but the responsibility to pursue these charges, it is a responsibility that the Canadian government owes not only to the people of Canada, but to the people of the world. The 1987 Convention Against Torture [And Other Cruel, Inhuman Or Degrading Treatment Or Punishment] binds us to this action.” Canada ratified the UN Convention on Torture along with 139 other nations; promising to protect the inalienable right of all the world’s citizens to live a life free of torture.

Torture is a unique crime in that it is an act of the state, carried out for the purpose of punishment, extracting information from or compelling the cooperation of its victims. It comes in many forms; starvation, degradation, and most horribly, extreme physical abuses, the likes of which most of us living in the safety of Canada cannot imagine.

Prisoners are regularly subjected to extreme temperatures without clothing or any other form of protection, they are chained by their wrists and ankles to a bolt in the floor for periods as long as 24 hours; they are routinely terrorized by armed guards and vicious dogs, threatened with humiliation, rape, and death. These are not outlandish or hysterical claims. They are facts supported by a terrible wealth of visual, audio and testimonial evidence. Ms. Davidson has compiled a presentation of photographs which is gut-wrenching to watch. “Most people can’t sit through the whole thing,” she reports, “it goes against our humanity to see these kinds of acts. Anyone with any sense of right and wrong knows immediately that this is wrong. Deeply and inexcusably wrong.” Perhaps the most awful aspect of these images is the smiling U.S. soldiers who proudly pose atop piles of naked and battered prisoners. The victims are often forced into sexual and submissive positions to make for a “better” photo. The fact that these acts are sanctioned by the nation which claims to be the leader of the free world is almost unbelievable.

Ms. Davidson returns to court on the 25th of November, ironically she is arguing against Crown Counsel, legal representative of the very government which promised to oppose torture wherever and whenever it occurs. “It’s frustrating,” she says, “but I believe that the citizens of Canada and the world will support what we are trying to do, and will voice their outrage. We want people to know and participate in what we are doing.”
Gag Order Lifted On Canadian Torture Charges Against Bush

October 18th 2005 ­ Vancouver B.C.

Lawyers Against the War (LAW) has achieved what it is calling a “very important victory” in its battle to have George W. Bush face criminal charges in Canada for torture.

The charges stem from the notorious cases of torture carried out by U.S. forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, first exposed in a series of gruesome private photos that scandalized the world in early 2004. Torture charges were laid against Bush on the occasion of his controversial visit to Canada in November of that year.

The charges were laid under sections of the Canadian Criminal Code enacted pursuant to the United Nations Torture Convention, which requires extra-territorial jurisdiction to be exercised against officials, even Heads of State, who authorize or oversee torture.

On Monday, the Supreme Court of British Columbia quashed an order banning publication of everything having to do with the case. In a secret hearing held December 6th 2004 in Provincial Court, the charges against Bush were rejected on the basis of arguments by the Attorney General of British Columbia that the visiting president was shielded from prosecution by diplomatic immunity. The ban on publication of anything to do with the proceedings was imposed at the same time.

The secrecy, the immunity claim and the ban were vigorously opposed by LAW, who appealed all aspects of the decision.

On Monday, Justice Deborah Satanove of the Supreme Court of British Columbia quashed the publication ban after government lawyers failed to come up with any argument to defend it. The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association had intervened on the side of LAW against the ban.

“This is a very important victory”, said Vancouver lawyer Gail Davidson, who laid the charges for LAW, “because it ensures that the proceedings will be scrutinized by people in Canada and throughout the world, to make sure that the law is applied fairly and properly and, above all, to make sure that Bush doesn’t get away with torture.”

“The American legal system seems incapable of bringing him to justice and there are no international courts with jurisdiction. So it’s up to Canada to enforce the law that everybody has signed on to but nobody else seems willing to apply.”

The next hearing in the case will take place on November 25th 2005, at 10:00 a.m. at the B.C. Supreme Court, 800 Smithe Street, Vancouver, B.C., when government lawyers have said they will argue that the issue is now “moot” because the Attorney General of Canada has not yet consented to the prosecution. Toronto law professor Michael Mandel, co-chair of LAW, calls this argument “bogus”: “It’s irrelevant to the issues before the court. Anyway it’s hard to see how the Attorney General can withhold his consent to simply let justice take its course. Irwin Cotler’s credo is supposed to be “Justice, justice shall you pursue” not ingratiation with superpowers who practice torture. Bush is still guilty, he’s still on the loose and we still have our obligations under the United Nations Convention to bring torturers to justice.”

Lawyers Against the War is an international group of jurists based in Canada with members in fourteen countries.

Contacts:
Michael Mandel,
Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario, M3J 1P3. Tel: 416 736-5039, Fax: 416-736-5736,
Email: MMandel@osgoode.yorku.ca

Gail Davidson,
Tel: 604 738 0338; Fax: 604 736 1175,
Email: law@portal.ca

 

 

More articles by:

December 11, 2018
Eric Draitser
AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?
Sheldon Richman
War Over Ukraine?
Louis Proyect
Why World War II, Not the New Deal, Ended the Great Depression
Howard Lisnoff
Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.
Mark Ashwill
A “Patriotic” Education Study Abroad Program in Viet Nam: God Bless America, Right or Wrong!
Laura Flanders
HUD Official to Move into Public Housing?
Nino Pagliccia
Resistance is Not Terrorism
Matthew Johnson
See No Evil, See No Good: The Truth Is Not Black and White
Maria Paez Victor
How Reuters Slandered Venezuela’s Social Benefits Card
December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Macdonald Stainsby
Unist’ot’en Camp is Under Threat in Northern Canada
Senator Tom Harkin
Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles
W. T. Whitney
Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Ramzy Baroud
The Conspiracy Against Refugees
David Rosen
The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot
Raouf Halaby
Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing
Daniel Falcone
Noam Chomsky Turns 90
Dean Baker
An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?
Nick Pemberton
The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual
Ralph Nader
New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!
Dan Kovalik
The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail