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Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch Call For Arrest Of George W. Bush

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Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch demanded the arrest and prosecution of former president George W. Bush before his appearance at an economic summit in Surrey, British Columbia on October 20th.

The advocacy organizations have called on Canadian federal authorities to arrest Bush due to the "overwhelming evidence that Bush and other senior administration officials authorized and implemented a regime of torture and ill-treatment of hundreds of detainees in US custody."

Though both advocacy groups called for Bush's extradition, The Vancouver Sun reports that the Canadian government has no intention to comply with the demand, saying the organizations were "engaging in cheap stunts."

The ultimatum has also been dismissed in the US. Eliott Abrams, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Counsel for Foreign Relations, published a piece highlighting the arbitrary demands for prosecution by HRW and Amnesty.

Though the groups have been outspoken in their campaigns against Bush's involvement with torture, they choose their targets selectively, Abrams argues, saying that neither organization demanded the arrests or tried to bar travel of other heads of state with histories of human rights violations:

"Bashar al-Assad visited Paris in 2008 and 2009: silence. Putin hit Brussels this year: silence. When in good health Fidel was a world traveler: silence. No calls for prosecution for the many killings such people have ordered."

But Amnesty stood firm, saying in its statement that the former President authorized the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as waterboarding, a violation of basic human rights and international criminal law.

Susan Lee, Americas Director at Amnesty International, called the opportunity for arrest "a crucial moment for Canada to demonstrate it is prepared to live up to its...obligations with respect to human rights...and must now demonstrate that...no one...is above international law."

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