George W. Bush/Torture Indictment

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Event.png George W. Bush/Torture Indictment Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Bush Torture Indictment.jpg
Date7 February 2011 - Present
PerpetratorsCenter for Constitutional Rights, Canadian Centre for International Justice
DescriptionThe Center for Constitutional Rights and the Canadian Centre for International Justice have been taking legal action against George W Bush for his role in authorizing and overseeing his administration's well-documented torture program.

Bush Torture Indictment


On February 7, 2011, two torture victims were to have filed criminal complaints for torture against former president George W. Bush in Geneva, who was due to speak at an event there on February 12th. On the eve of the filing of the complaints, George Bush canceled his trip. Swiss law requires the presence of the alleged torturer on Swiss soil before a preliminary investigation can be opened. The complaints could not be filed after Bush canceled, as the basis for jurisdiction no longer existed.

These two complaints are part of a larger effort to ensure accountability for torturers, including former U.S. officials. So on February 7, 2011, CCR publicly released the "Preliminary Bush Torture Indictment." This document presents fundamental aspects of the case against George Bush for torture, and a preliminary legal analysis of his liability for torture and a response to some anticipated defenses. This document will be updated as developments warrant. The exhibit list contains references to more than 2,500 pages of supporting material.


The Preliminary Bush Torture Indictment was prepared so that it could be used for individual victims to file cases against George Bush in any country where the UN Convention Against Torture provides jurisdiction.


There is global support for the victims of torture under the Bush administration to seek justice and accountability. CCR worked with the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights to prepare the case in Switzerland, and had support from the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).

The individual complaints that were set to be filed in Geneva on February 7, 2011 were supported by a letter from more than 60 human rights organizations and prominent individuals calling for the prosecution of George W. Bush for torture, including former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Theo van Boven, UN Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Leandro Despouy, and Nobel Peace Prize recipients Shirin Ebadi and Pérez Esquivel. A number of the human rights organizations which signed on are facing the on-going harms of the "counterterrorism" policies advanced under the Bush administration and then adopted or employed in their own countries.

Manfred Nowak, former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture (2004-2010), was to submit an expert opinion on the complaints concluding that the conduct to which both plaintiffs were subjected constitutes torture, that Switzerland had an obligation to open a preliminary investigation, and that George W. Bush enjoys no immunity.

2013 Developments

After some delaying tactics, the Canadian government replied in October 2013, arguing not that Bush enjoyed any immunity under law as a former Head of State or that the allegations of torture against him were frivolous or politically motivated. Instead Canada argued that it was not worth pursuing an investigation or prosecution of Bush because, the Canadian authorities would not get the necessary assistance from the United States. Canada argued that any evidence "of torture by the U.S. government resides, for the most part, within the very center of the U.S. administration and with present and former U.S. officials residing in the United States."[1]


Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
File:Bush Denunciation Letter 7 Feb 2011.pdfopen letter7 February 2011An unequivocal allegation of torture by George W Bush and a request that the General Prosecutor of the Canton of Geneva follow up the legal responsibilities stemming from the UN Convention Against Torture.
File:Bush Exhibits List.pdfdocument list2011A list of the evidence used in the CCR's indictment of George W Bush.
File:Bush Indictment.pdflegal document2011The indictment of former U.S. president George W. Bush for his role in authorizing and overseeing his administration’s well-documented torture program.