Washington, DC:Amnesty International today called on the Swiss authorities to open a criminal investigation against former U.S. President George W. Bush in light of his expected visit to the country on February 12.“The Swiss authorities would be obliged to detain and investigate the former president even if they were only to rely on his own statements that he authorized waterboarding, an interrogation technique that clearly constitutes torture," said Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty International.President Bush admitted in his memoirs published last November, and in a television interview, that he authorized the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to use a number of “enhanced interrogation techniques” against detainees held in secret CIA custody, including “waterboarding."
“It is not often that a person with President Bush’s high public profile goes on television or puts in writing what amounts to admissions of personal involvement in crimes under international law, but this is what has happened here," continued Shetty.“As the US authorities have, so far, failed to bring President Bush to justice, the international community must step in.”
Amnesty International has submitted a memo outlining human rights violations to the appropriate Swiss authorities, along with hundreds of supporting documents. Amnesty International also sent documents to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Amnesty International’s submission to Swiss prosecutors and government officials examines the former president’s legal responsibility for two cases in which he authorized the CIA to use waterboarding.
The CIA Inspector General found that these two detainees, Zayn al Abidin Muhammed Husayn (known as Abu Zubaydah) and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, were subjected, between them, to at least 266 applications of waterboarding in 2002 and 2003. In this technique, detainees were strapped down, tipped backwards, had water poured over their nostrils and mouths, and experienced the pain and suffering of suffocation by drowning.
In the CIA’s secret detention program, set up under then-President Bush’s authorization, at least two dozen additional detainees were subjected to a range of other “enhanced interrogation techniques," including being forced to stay for hours in positions designed to cause pain and suffering, and being subjected to sleep deprivation and assaults.
The submission highlights further evidence of torture and other crimes under international law committed against detainees held in U.S. military custody in Guantánamo Bay, Afghanistan and Iraq.
For more than six years, Amnesty International has been calling on the United States to fully investigate and bring to justice anyone responsible for crimes under international law committed during the “war on terror." The United States has failed to meet its obligations.
“Switzerland prides itself on its support for international justice," said Shetty. "This is an opportunity to translate that commitment from words into action."
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.