Impunity Files: 10-17-2011
Calls for Arrest of Bush and al-Bashir for War Crimes
Amnesty International has called on Canadian authorities to arrest and prosecute former U.S. President George W. Bush for crimes against international law, because of his direct responsibility for the carrying out of torture during his administration. Bush is scheduled to attend an economic summit in British Columbia on October 20th. Canada’s failure to act, AI spokesman Susan Lee says, “would violate the UN Convention Against Torture and demonstrate contempt for fundamental human rights.” An Agence France-Presse story quotes Canada’s Immigration Minister as criticizing the internationally-respected human rights organization for “cherry picking cases to publicize, based on ideology.”
As Amnesty’s statement notes, it’s clear that the current U.S. administration will not act to bring those responsible for Bush-era torture policies to account, and the group is therefore trying to bring international condemnation to bear. While actual prosecutions may be too much to hope for, such efforts might at least give Bush, Cheney, et al, a few moments of embarrassment – and maybe even some sleepless nights. The AFP story noted that Bush did cancel a visit to Switzerland in February “after facing similar public calls for his arrest.”
In the meantime, Amnesty has also called for Malawi to arrest Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, and surrender him to the International Criminal Court on outstanding ICC arrest warrants charging genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes committed in the Darfur conflict. Like Bush, al-Bashir was traveling abroad to attend an economic summit.
Nice company! Maybe we need to be paying some attention to the organizations who invite international war criminals to participate in their deliberations.
On the Consequences of Bullying
New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow writes: “I have watched with a heavy heart these last few years as one child after another has committed suicide because he or she was bullied. I know that pain. I, too, was bullied as a child. And I, too, considered taking my life. I was eight years old.” Check out his piece, The Bleakness of the Bullied.
“Children can’t see their budding lives through the long lens of wisdom,” he writes, quoting an earlier blog post. “For them, the weight of ridicule and ostracism can feel crushing and without the possibility of reprieve. And, in that dark and lonely place, desperate and confused, they can make horrible decisions that can’t be undone.”
Torture in Health Care
A project of the Open Society Foundations, Stop Torture in Health Care currently has three international advocacy campaigns: ending forced sterilization of racial and ethnic minority women, poor women, women living with HIV, and women with disabilities; denial of pain relief due to ideologically-based or financial restrictions on appropriate medication; and the use of forcible detention as treatment for medical conditions such as drug addiction, mental disability, or tuberculosis.
The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests describes itself as “the largest, oldest and most active support group for women and men wounded by religious authority figures (priests, ministers, bishops, deacons, nuns and others)…Our website exists to provide support and knowledge to all victims of clergy abuse, to help educate the public, and to help ensure that, in future generations, children will be safe.”
A recent BBC news item quoted on the organization’s website reports that Father Laurence Soper, 80, the former abbot of the Britain’s Ealing Abbey from 1991 to 2000, has apparently jumped bail, failing to show up in London to answer charges of child abuse dating back 20 years to when he taught at a Catholic private school in London.