Former United States President George W. Bush has cancelled an engagement to speak at a Jewish charity event in Geneva due to possible legal action against him for alleged human rights violations.
Bush was due to be the keynote speaker but pressure was being exerted on the Swiss government to arrest him then begin a criminal investigation into his actions. Fear of traveling to countries that have ratified laws against human rights violations may be an obstacle in the future to travels outside the US.
The Huffington Post reports: “Bush, in his "Decision Points" memoirs on his 2001-2009 presidency, strongly defends the use of waterboarding as key to preventing a repeat of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. Most human rights experts consider the practice a form of torture, 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.”
Human rights groups stated the intention to file a 2,500 page document in Geneva alleging mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. naval base in Cuba.
Reuters reports: "He's avoiding the handcuffs," Reed Brody, counsel for Human Rights Watch, told Reuters. The action in Switzerland showed Bush had reason to fear legal complaints against him if he travelled to countries that have ratified an international treaty banning torture, he said. Brody is an American-trained lawyer specialized in pursuing war crimes worldwide, especially those allegedly ordered by former leaders, including Chile's late dictator Augusto Pinochet and Chad's ousted president Hissene Habre. Habre has been charged by Belgium with crimes against humanity and torture, and is currently exiled in Senegal.”