For Immediate Release
CCR Announces Bush Indictment for Convention Against Torture Signatory States
No Immunity for Former Presidents Under Law
with more than 2,500-pages of supporting material, in Geneva against
former U.S. President George W. Bush, who was due to speak at an event
there on 12 February. Swiss law requires the presence of the torturer
on Swiss soil before a preliminary investigation can be opened. When
Bush cancelled his trip to avoid prosecution, the human rights groups
who prepared the complaints made it public and announced that the Bush
Torture Indictment would be waiting wherever he travels next. The
Indictment serves as the basis on which to prepare country-specific,
plaintiff-specific indictments, with additional evidence and updated
information. According to international law experts at the New
York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Berlin-based
European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), former
presidents do not enjoy special immunity under the Convention Against
"Waterboarding is torture, and Bush has admitted, without any sign of remorse, that he approved its use," said Katherine Gallagher, Senior Staff Attorney at CCR and Vice President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). "The reach of the Convention Against Torture is wide - this
case is prepared and will be waiting for him wherever he travels
next. Torturers - even if they are former presidents of the United
States - must be held to account and prosecuted. Impunity for Bush must end."
While the U.S. has thus far failed to comply with its obligations
under the Convention Against Torture to prosecute and punish those who
commit torture, all other signatories, too, are obligated to prosecute
or extradite for prosecution anyone present in their territory they have
a reasonable basis for believing has committed torture. If the evidence
warrants, as the Bush Torture Indictment contends it does, and the U.S.
fails to request the extradition of Bush and others to face charges of
torture there, CAT signatories must, under law, prosecute them for
In a statement this weekend, the groups who organized the complaints
said, "Whatever Bush or his hosts say, we have no doubt he cancelled his
trip to avoid our case. The message from civil society is clear - If
you're a torturer, be careful in your travel plans."
The complaints that had been scheduled to be filed on Monday asked
that the General Prosecutor of the Canton of Geneva investigate
allegations that men were tortured as part of the Bush administration's
well-documented torture program. Bush proudly recounted in his recently
published memoir that when asked in 2002 to if it was permissible to
waterboard a detainee - a recognized act of torture - he replied "damn
Monday, February 7, is the ninth anniversary of the day Bush decided the Geneva Conventions did not apply to ‘enemy combatants.'
According to the Bush Indictment, which was written on behalf of
torture victims by CCR and ECCHR, former President Bush bears individual
and command responsibility for the acts of his subordinates which he
ordered, authorized, condoned or otherwise aided and abetted, as well as
for the violations committed by his subordinates which he failed to
prevent or punish.
"Bush is a torturer and deserves to be remembered as such," said Gavin Sullivan, Solicitor and Counterterrorism Program Manager, ECCHR.
"He bears ultimate responsibility for authorizing the torture of
thousands of individuals at places like Guantánamo and secret CIA ‘black
sites' around the world. As all states are obliged to prosecute such
torturers, Bush has good reason to be very worried."
CCR, ECCHR and FIDH were joined by more than 60 human rights
organizations and prominent individuals who signed on to support the
call for George W. Bush's prosecution, including former UN Special
Rapporteur on Torture, Theo van Boven, former UN Special Rapporteur on
Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Leandro Despouy, and Nobel Peace
Prize recipients Shirin Ebadi and Pérez Esquivel. A number of the human
rights organizations which signed on are facing the on-going harms of
the "counterterrorism" policies advanced under the Bush administration
and then adopted or employed in their own countries.. The complaint
included 2500 pages of supporting materials.
Manfred Nowak, former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture (2004-2010),
was to submit an expert opinion on the complaints concluding that the
conduct to which both plaintiffs were subjected constitutes torture,
that Switzerland had an obligation to open a preliminary investigation,
and that George W. Bush enjoys no immunity.
The Bush Torture Indictment, the official "letter of denunciation" summarizing the case and other materials are available here: http://ccrjustice.org/ourcases/current-cases/bush-torture-indictment.
The Center for Constitutional Rights, in addition to filing the first
cases representing men detained at Guantánamo, has filed universal
jurisdiction cases seeking accountability for torture by Bush
administration officials in Germany, France and submitted expert
opinions and other documentation to ongoing cases in Spain in
collaboration with ECCHR. The Center for Constitutional Rights is
dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the
United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights
movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational
organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force
for social change. Visit www.ccrjustice.org. Follow @theCCR.
The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) is an
independent, non-profit legal organization that enforces human rights by
holding state and non-state actors to account for egregious abuses
through innovative strategic litigation. For more information visit www.ecchr.eu
The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) is a
non-governmental federation for 164 human rights organizations. FIDH's
core mandate is to promote respect for all the rights set out in the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights. Its priority areas include protecting human
rights defenders and fighting impunity. For more information on FIDH, see www.fidh.org.
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The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.