Litigation threat forces Bush to cancel Swiss trip

[TamilNet, Sunday, 06 February 2011, 16:41 GMT]
US's former President George Bush cancelled his intended visit to Switzerland to talk in Geneva, after Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a New York based non-profit group and other human rights organizations threatened to bring a complaint in Switzerland under the Convention Against Torture for sanctioning torture of terrorism suspects. Rights activists were also organizing a rally outside the Hotel Wilson, where the speech was scheduled to take place, Washington Post said.

While a Swiss Foreign Ministry spokesperson told the Associated Press that the Switzerland's Justice Ministry's conclusion was that Bush would have immunity from prosecution for any alleged violations while in the office, CCR disputed that interpretation, there is no such immunity under the Convention Against Torture.

The plaintiffs in the planned legal action were to be a Guantanamo Bay inmate, Majid Khan, and a former Al Jazeera cameraman, Samil al-Hajj who was released in May 2008.

CCR indicated that it will release a 2500-page complaint Monday at a Media event, and that a complaint will not be filed.

In a June 2010 decision by US Supreme Court on ex-Somali presidient Samantar, the Court said, countries -- not individuals -- enjoyed diplomatic immunity from lawsuits in the United States, In a unanimous decision the court ruled that Mohamed Ali Samantar, who now lives in the United States, may be sued over alleged torture during his rule.

A spokesperson for Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), a US-based activist group which recently filed a case in US court on behalf of three Tamil plaintiffs against Sri Lanka's President Rajapakse for war-crimes, said, "Switzerland recently modified its criminal code making it less difficult to bring complaints against perpetrators of torture, war-crimes and other crimes against humanity. Bush's decision to cancel Swiss trip is a clear warning to other alleged violators of international customary law that getting into swiss border will be fraught with the danger of arrest."


External Links:
WP: Bush trip to Switzerland called off amid threats of protests, legal action
OYEZ: Samantar v. Yousuf
ScotusWiki: Samantar v. Yousuf
CCR: Center for Constitutional Rights
DD: Amici Curiae Brief for Samantar v. Yousuf

 

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