Yeeeeay! This is so exciting! especially given earlier efforts by Canadians to get Bush arrested when he visited Canada. He’s planning to visit Canada again, in October 2011. We can do what the people of Switzerland have done - -
The Washington Post and Cleveland Leader coverage of the cancelation of Bush’s Geneva engagement appears below. There are numerous on-line reports to choose from.
Amidst calls for Bush’s arrest and plans by the Center for Constitutional Rights and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights to file torture charges, Bush has canceled his Feb. 12/11 trip to Geneva. Many groups including LAW supported the move to lay charges and arrest Bush.
HISTORY OF EFFORTS TO GET BUSH ARRESTED: Click on George Bush War Criminal (from the drop-down list of “PAGES” on the www.sandrafinley.ca blog). George W Bush is going to be brought to justice eventually. I am very happy that we did our part when he visited Canada in 2009. Now the Swiss have taken their turn. If they can force a cancelation of his visit, so can we. We’ll just ramp up the 2009 efforts and use some new strategies!
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Bush trip to Switzerland called off amid threats of protests, legal action
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 5, 2011; 3:34 PM
A planned trip to Switzerland next week by George W. Bush was canceled after human rights activists called for demonstrations and threatened legal action over allegations that the former president sanctioned the torture of terrorism suspects.
The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights and several European human rights groups said they were planning to file a complaint against Bush and wanted Swiss prosecutors to open a criminal case against him once he arrived in the country.
In what would have been his first European trip since leaving the presidency, Bush was scheduled to speak in Geneva on Feb. 12 at a dinner in honor of the United Israel Appeal. A lawyer for the organization said Bush’s appearance was canceled because of the risk of violence, and that the threat of legal action was not an issue.
“The calls to demonstrate were sliding into dangerous terrain,” the lawyer, Robert Equey, told the Swiss daily Tribune de Geneve.
A spokesman for Bush said the former president regretted that his speech was canceled.
“President Bush was looking forward to speaking about freedom and offering reflections from his time in office,” David Sherzer said in an e-mailed statement.
Organizers of a rally outside the Hotel Wilson, where the speech was scheduled to take place, had called on demonstrators to each bring a shoe, an effort to echo the assault on Bush during a news conference in Baghdad in 2008 when an Iraqi journalist threw a shoe at him.
The Center for Constitutional Rights said in a statement that they had planned to bring the complaint under the Convention Against Torture on behalf of two of men, Majid Khan, who remains at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Sami al-Hajj, a former Al Jazeera cameraman who was released in May 2008. The 2,500-page complaint will not be filed in court, but will be released Monday at a media event in Switzerland.
“Whatever Bush or his hosts say, we have no doubt he canceled his trip to avoid our case,” the Center’s statement said. “The message from civil society is clear: If you’re a torturer, be careful in your travel plans. It’s a slow process for accountability, but we keep going.”
A Swiss Foreign Ministry spokesman told the Associated Press that the country’s Justice Ministry had concluded that Bush would have immunity from prosecution for any alleged actions while in office. The Center for Constitutional Rights disputed that interpretation, arguing there is no such immunity under the Convention Against Torture.
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FROM THE CLEVELAND LEADER:
George W. Bush Cancels Appearance in Switzerland Because He Could be Arrested on War Crimes
Former U.S. president George W. Bush was due to address a Jewish charity gala in Switzerland, but canceled his appearance due to the risk of legal action against him for alleged torture.
Bush was set to be the keynote speaker at Kere Hayesod’s annual dinner on February 12 in Geneva. However, pressure has been mounting on the Swiss government to arrest Bush and open a criminal investigation if he entered the country.
Court officials have said that criminal complaints against Bush alleging torture have been lodged in Geneva. Human rights groups also said that they intended to submit a 2,500-page case against Bush on Monday for alleged mistreatment of suspected militants at Guantanamo Bay.
Bush’s visit would have also likely been greeted by protests. Leftist groups had called for a protest next Saturday. The gala’s organizers then announced that they were canceling his participation because of security concerns, not criminal complaints.
However, the International Federation of Human Rights and Human Rights Watch said that the cancellation was actually linked to growing pressure to hold Bush accountable for torture, including waterboarding.
In his memoirs and television interviews, Bush has admitted to ordering use of waterboarding, which simulated drowning, as an interrogation technique.
The human rights groups said that the actions taken in Switzerland show that Bush has reason to fear traveling to countries that have ratified an international treaty banning torture because legal complaints could be filed against him.
Reed Brody, counsel for Human Rights Watch, said:
“President Bush has admitted he ordered waterboarding which everyone considers to be a form of torture under international law. Under the Convention against Torture, authorities would have been obliged to open an investigation and either prosecute or extradite George Bush.”
Waterboarding is considered a form of torture by most human rights experts, which is 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.