Amnesty's Alex Neve Plays Carmen Sandiego Badly
In a recent statement, Amnesty Canada General Secretary Alex Neve insisted that Canada not only should arrest Bush when he arrives in Canada, but is actually required to do so.
“Torturers must face justice and their crimes are so egregious that the responsibility for ensuring justice is shared by all nations,” Neve declared. “Friend or foe, extraordinary or very ordinary times, most or least powerful nation, faced with concerns about terrorism or any other threat, torture must be stopped.”
“Bringing to justice the people responsible for torture is central to that goal. It is the law,” he continued. “And no one, including the man who served as president of the world’s most powerful nation for eight years can be allowed to stand above that law.”
There’s little doubt in my mind that Neve is right about torture. Torture must not be tolerated, and especially not by the world’s most powerful countries. I even agree that Bush should be called to account for the “enhanced interrogation techniques” he authorized.
Where Neve is wrong is about whether or not Canada should arrest Bush, or even if Canada legally can.
The question those demanding the arrest of Bush, or his Vice President, Dick Cheney, must answer is this: in what jurisdiction, with the authority to prosecute for war crimes, has a warrant been issued for Bush’s arrest?
Under international law, the first opportunity to issue an arrest warrant is granted to the country where the torture took place. In the case of Bush, that is actually the United States.
Naturally, the US is unlikely to issue an arrest warrant for a former POTUS. So one should expect very little action there.
So then what about the next jurisdiction with the authority to issue a warrant? What about the Hague?
Of course, no arrest warrant has been issued there. Presumably, any of the states whose citizens were tortured by US personnel could attempt to issue an arrest warrant and extradite Bush… but this would be a problem for them, because many of them are countries where torture is not only considered legal, but practiced with enthusiasm.
Which is itself a problem for Amnesty’s stance on this matter. In a statement, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney dismissed Neve and Amnesty as far-left ideologues, showboating for the entertainment of Bush’s global political adversaries.
"Amnesty International cherrypicks cases to publicize based on ideology,” Kenney declared. “This kind of stunt helps explain why so many respected human rights advocates have abandoned Amnesty International,"
In an appearance on CTV, Neve would counter that Amnesty has also spoken out against torture by countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Libya, just to name a few.
But in the last of these three lies the most difficult challenge for Neve’s argument.
In 2009, then-Libyan President Muamar al-Gadhafi briefly planned to stop over in Newfoundland on his way back to Libya from New York, where he spoke at the UN.
So did Amnesty Canada demand that the Canadian government place Gadhafi under arrest for the torture that is well known to have been taking place in Libyan prisons?
No. No, they did not.
So for Neve, the question is this: why not?
If Canada had jurisdiction to arrest Gadhafi for the known torture taking place in Libyan prisons, then according to Neve’s argument, it had the responsibility to place him under arrest and immediately prosecute him.
It wasn’t diplomatic immunity that kept Amnesty from demanding Gadhafi’s arrest. It was two things: first, a lack of jurisdiction on Canada’s part. Secondly, a lack of interest.
Not necessarily a lack of interest from Amnesty Canada as a whole, because Neve is absolutely correct when he notes that Amnesty Canada frequently denounced Gadhafi’s regime for its crimes against humanity. The lack of interest is squarely within the political constituency Amnesty Canada has come to serve – one more interested in twisting notions of human rights to denounce the Fort McMurray oilsands than in actual abuses of recognized human rights.
Neve declined to demand Gadhafi’s arrest because it isn’t ideologically thrilling to the far-left ideologues who are increasingly colonizing Amnesty International, and the idea of arresting George W Bush – or Dick Cheney – thrills them like no other.
In his rush to please this constituency, Alex Neve comes across like a terrible contestant on Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego. Despite knowing full well that he needs the loot and, more importantly, the warrant before he can arrest the bad guy, Neve and Amnesty Canada are in a rush to get to the perp, all in the name of impressing the far-left.
Patrick Ross is a Contributing Writer for The Propagandist