In February 2011, former US President George W. Bush cancelled a public appearance in Geneva. Newspaper reports suggest the trip was called off amid fears of protests and the threat of criminal proceedings against him. ECCHR and the New York Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) had prepared criminal complaints in Geneva for two victims of the post 9/11 US torture program. The two 2,500-page complaints were supported by more than 50 organizations from around the world as well as from Nobel Peace Prize winners Shirin Ebadi and Pérez Esquivel and former UN Special Rapporteurs Theo van Boven and Leandro Despouy.
The evidence includes documents concerning the torture program after 11 September 2001 with a particular focus on the liability of high ranking American officials, including former President Bush. Bush is accused of a number of crimes, including violations of the UN Convention against Torture. The possibility of immunity for former heads of state is precluded in the case of torture. The Convention against Torture obliges member states to investigate suspected instances of torture, regardless of whether the allegations relate to former presidents or members of the government, secret services, the army or police forces.
As a signatory of the Convention against Torture, the US is obliged to prosecute for these crimes. Should those responsible for the torture program continue to avoid prosecution in the US, ECCHR and CCR will take all available steps to initiate proceedings elsewhere.