Amnesty International today called on the Swiss authorities to open a criminal investigation against former US President George W. Bush in light of his expected visit to the country on 12 February.
Amnesty International’s detailed, formal submission to Swiss prosecutors and government officials examines the former president’s legal responsibility for two cases in which he authorised the CIA to use waterboarding.
President Bush admitted in his memoirs published last November, and in a television interview, that he authorised the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to use a number of “enhanced interrogation techniques” against detainees held in secret CIA custody, including “waterboarding”.
Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, said:
“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 authorised waterboarding, an interrogation technique that clearly constitutes torture.
“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.
“As the US authorities have, so far, failed to bring President Bush to justice, the international community must step in.
“Switzerland prides itself on its support for international justice. This is an opportunity to translate that commitment from words into action.”
The CIA Inspector General found that 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 authorisation, 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 US military custody in Guantánamo, Afghanistan and Iraq.
For more than six years, Amnesty International has been calling on the USA to fully investigate and bring to justice anyone responsible for crimes under international law committed during the “war on terror”. The USA has failed to meet its obligations.