by: Obert Madondo
Former US Vice President Dick Cheney. [Photo: Wikipedia]
A group of activist lawyers has urged Canada to arrest megalomaniac Dick Cheney for torture and war crimes when he visits Toronto later this week.
The former US Vice President is scheduled to speak at the Toronto Global Forum at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on October 31. The event is hosted by the International Economic Forum of the Americas.
In a letter dispatched to Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair and Ontario Attorney General John Gerretsen on Sunday, Lawyers Against the War argues that Canada has a “duty to arrest Richard Cheney as a person suspected on reasonable grounds of authorizing, counseling, aiding, abetting and failing to prevent torture.”
“Evidence of Dick Cheney’s complicity in the widespread use of torture by the United States is well documented and widely available and Dick Cheney has publicly admitted to authorizing the use of torture,” the letter stated.
Cheney, Vice President under George W. Bush, was a “key architect of U.S. policy that bordered on war crimes.” In 2010, he bragged that he was a “big supporter” of waterboarding.
The lawyers believe that Canada can use various instruments to arrest Cheney, including the Criminal Code of Canada, Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, and the United Nations Convention Against Torture, to which Canada is a signatory.
“Once Dick Cheney enters Canada, the torture (both the torture he has admitted to authorizing and the torture that he is accused of) are deemed to have been committed in Canada as determined by the Criminal Code of Canada,” the letter stated.
This isn’t the first time Cheney has faced the wrath of Canadians. Last year, he and his daughter Elizabeth were forced to cancel an appearance at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre “due to security concerns stemming from their experiences in Vancouver in September 2011.”
On September 26, 2011, protesters in Vancouver besieged Cheney while promoting his memoir, “In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir,” at the exclusive Vancouver Club.
The lawyers also calling on the Toronto police to ensure that Canadians’ right to protest Cheney’s visit are upheld.
“We understand that TPS officers may be under pressure to resort to exceptional measures to shield Dick Cheney from people lawfully protesting his presence in Canada and the refusal of the Attorney General of Canada and the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to enforce the applicable law which include the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Criminal Code of Canada and other Canadian and binding international law prohibiting torture,” the letter said.
“We remind you that the right to publicly protest is guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is therefore particularly important that TPS officers be adequately instructed to keep the peace during any citizens’ protest that takes place on 31 October 2013 by protecting and ensuring the right to protest rather than suppressing or violating those rights. We hope the guide attached will be made available to officers involved in policing at or near the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the site of the Toronto Global Forum.
We anticipate that protesters will be calling on the TPS to uphold and enforce Canadian law and Canada’s international law obligations to prevent and punish torture wherever it occurs, whatever the nationality and status of suspected perpetrators and whatever the nationality of victims. We anticipate that protesters may try to engage officers in conversation on this issue or otherwise persuade officers to act to detain Dick Cheney.
The right (and duty) of individuals to vigorously express criticism of government policies and practices (in this case the refusal to bar Dick Cheney from Canada) in public spaces is the foundation upon which democracy rests.”
Lawyers Against The War letter
Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based progressive blogger, and the founder and editor of The Canadian Progressive.