Who’s Afraid of War Crimes Prosecution? Cheney Cancels Toronto Speaking Event [video]_Featured_, Crimes Against Humanity, Featured Videos Tuesday, March 20th, 2012
Former US Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter, Elizabeth, have cancelled a planned speaking engagement at Toronto’s Metro Convention Centre next month, citing safety concerns. According to the president of the promotion company that booked Cheney for the April 24th speech, “He felt that in Canada the risk of violent protest was simply too high. They specifically referenced what happened in Vancouver.”
The reference is to a fierce protest of Cheney’s speech in British Columbia last September which necessitated the use of Vancouver riot police and kept Cheney locked inside the speaking venue for seven hours while crowds were dispersed.
Cheney is not the first credibly accused war criminal from the Bush Administration to cancel a speaking arrangement due to concerns about popular protest or even arrest.
In early 2011 former President George W. Bush was forced to cancel a trip to Switzerland to speak at a fundraiser for the United Israel Appeal after it was revealed that a number of human rights groups were planning to prosecute Bush for war crimes, including contravention of the Convention Against Torture to which the United States is a signatory.
The first such attempt to prosecute Bush occurred in 2009 during the former president’s first trip abroad since leaving office, when he spoke at the Telus Convention Centre in downtown Calgary, Canada. At the time, Lawyers Against the War and other groups lobbied Canadian prosecutors to fulfill their duties under the Canadian War Crimes Act to arrest and try Bush for his documented participation in the commission of torture techniques during his reign as president.
Despite widespread protest, prosecutors declined to bring charges against Bush at the time, and police defended Bush from Splitting The Sky, a Mohawk activist who attempted a citizen’s arrest.
Another round of lobbying preceded Bush’s appearance at a speaking engagement in Surrey, B.C. late last year, citing the evidence in a 2006 UN report, a 2007 Council of Europe report, a 2008 US Senate Armed Services Committee report, the testimony of UN Special Rapporteurs Nowak and Scheinin, a 2009 admission by Cheney and Bush’s own 2010 memoirs, but once again Canadian authorities refused to enforce the law by bringing charges against Bush.