International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Arrest Bush!



Four former detainees in Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan filed a complaint with the U.N. Committee against Torture against Canada for failing to arrest and prosecute former U.S. president George W. Bush. The Canadian Centre for International Justice and the U.S.-based Center for Constitutional Rights filed the complaint on behalf of Hassan bin Attash, Sami el-Hajj, Muhammed Khan Tumani, and Murat Kurnaz (The Canadian Press). This episode goes back to last year, when they filed a criminal complaint in Canada alleging torture against Bush (Wittes). When Bush and Clinton visited British Columbia for a speaking engagement in October, 2011, hundreds were out to protest, and bin Attash, el-Hajj, Tumani and Kurnaz called on the Canadian government to uphold its legal obligation under the UN Convention against Torture and conduct a criminal investigation against Bush while he was on Canadian Soil (Gallagher). The picture above is from the protest that occurred during Bush’s visit. Amnesty International also called on the Canadian authorities on October 12, 2011, to arrest and prosecute Bush (Comte). Regarding this incidence, Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, wrote: “no, this isn’t an episode of South Park.”

Canada’s Justice Department answered with “It’s complicated” in briefing notes on the subject, pointing out that investigations involving crimes against humanity are complex, lengthy, and resource intensive and that Canada prioritizes those who reside in Canada. The note also writes that officials should tell the UN Committee, “Canada does not address specific criminal complaints in a public forum,” if pressed for information on Bush and Cheney (The Canadian Press).

The call for Bush’s arrest was supported by three civil organizations from U.S., Canada, and U.K., and this shows that civil society and victims will not be silent about human rights violations committed by the U.S. Although it is unlikely that Bush will actually be arrested and prosecuted, incidence like this significantly mars the reputation of the former leader of the U.S. Do you think incidence like this would change United States’ future calculations and actions? Also, I read someone’s comment on one of the news articles, which said, “Amnesty, I have just lost respect for you…what kind of idiot attacks the U.S. while ignoring the ACTUAL crimes of groups like Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, etc….?” These organizations probably didn’t think they would actually put Bush in jail. Then why do you think they did this? Also, do you think these organizations should just focus on “worse” human rights violations? Below are the links to the news and blog posts I read.


One response to “Arrest Bush!

  1. jaronsohn November 20, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    I think even just taking a glance that this, it becomes obvious that something like the UN prosecuting Canada for not capturing President Bush would never really happen, but it’s interesting to think about why. The first politically improbable possibility is that Canada would even think of arresting former President Bush without some sort of international support. Grabbing Bush would put them at odds with the secret service which, within a matter of days, could put them at odds with our army. The second improbable scenario is that the UN would express support for the arrest of one of our former presidents. The short response to this is that the US has an enormous amount of sway in UN actions on pretty much all levels. The final improbable scenario is that Bush could successfully be prosecuted. It’s hard to imagine a successful prosecution without the cooperation of the United States – to provide necessary documents and so forth – but we’re historically opposed to actively punishing our former leaders. Nixon, for instance, was pardoned – something most politicians will now tell you was the right decision for our country (though it was incredibly unpopular at the time). We could use a truth commission or two, but not admitting to our wrongs apparently helps our government continue to function.

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