|Amnesty called on African authorities to arrest Bush during his visit for ‘crimes under international law’ [Reuters]|
Zambia has dismissed an international rights group’s call for the arrest on torture charges of former President George Bush, who has been touring Africa to raise awareness about cervical and breast cancer.
“On what basis does Amnesty International want us to arrest President Bush?” Zambian state media quoted Chishimba Kambwili, the country’s foreign affairs minister as saying while Bush, his wife and daughters ended their visit to Zambia on Saturday.
Kambwili said Zambia would have considered the request only if it had come from the International Criminal Court acting on behalf of international organisations like the United Nations.
Earlier in the week, Amnesty International said it had asked Tanzania, Zambia and Ethiopia to arrest Bush for violating international torture laws.
“International law requires that there be no safe haven for those responsible for torture“
– Matt Pollard,
Amnesty International said that under international law the three nations had an obligation to arrest Bush during his tour of the countries from Monday to promote efforts to fight cervical and breast cancers.
“Amnesty International recognises the value of raising awareness about cervical and breast cancer in Africa, the stated aim of the visit, but this cannot lessen the damage to the fight against torture caused by allowing someone who has admitted to authorising water-boarding to travel without facing the consequences prescribed by law,” the group said in a statement on Thursday.
“All countries to which George W Bush travels have an obligation to bring him to justice for his role in torture,” Matt Pollard, Amnesty’s senior legal adviser, said.
‘Responsible for torture’
“International law requires that there be no safe haven for those responsible for torture; Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia must seize this opportunity to fulfil their obligations and end the impunity George W Bush has so far enjoyed.”
|In 2010, Bush reopened the debate on the legality of the use of torture in his book ‘Decision Points’|
Amnesty made a similar appeal to Canada in October when Bush visited British Columbia for an economic summit.
The group claimed Bush authorised the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” and “waterboarding” on detainees held in secret by the Central Intelligence Agency between 2002 and 2009.
Amnesty’s case relies on the public record, US documents obtained through access to information requests, Bush’s own memoir and a Red Cross report critical of the US’s war on terror policies.
Amnesty cites several instances of alleged torture of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, naval facility, in Afghanistan and in Iraq, by the US military.
The cases include that of Abu Zubaydah – also known as Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husain and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described 9/11 mastermind, both arrested in Pakistan. The two men were waterboarded a total of 266 times from 2002 to 2003, according to the CIA inspector general, cited by Amnesty.