Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney will be spending Halloween in Canada plugging his new book, but if a group of lawyers have their way it could be a long time before Cheney comes back to the United States.
Cheney will show up a the Toronto Global Forum Thursday, and the group Lawyers Against The War has already sent a letter to the city’s police chief demanding that he bust Cheney on charges of torture.
Cheney was a key proponent of so-called “enhanced interrogation” of terror suspects, advocating techniques such as "waterboarding” that critics say amount to nothing more than old-fashioned torture.
Canada’s laws against torture require police to arrest Cheney as soon as he crosses the border into Canada, the lawyers state in their letter to Toronto Police Chief William Blair and Ontario Attorney General John Gerretsen.
“As you are aware, the common law duty of police officers including TPS officers to investigate and prevent crimes such as torture, have been enacted by statute,” the letter says. “TPS officers also have a mandatory duty to prevent offences against the administration of justice such as enabling a torture suspect (in this case a person who has admitted to authorizing and failing to prevent torture) to escape prosecution.”
Other groups are also alarmed about Cheney’s visit. Matt Eisenbrandt of the Canadian Centre for International Justice and Katherine Gallagher, senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, penned an op-ed in the Toronto Star that called for Canadian authorities to investigate Cheney. They say Canada’s own laws require it.
“Canada is a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Torture,” they wrote. “Under the Torture Convention, Canada is obligated to investigate and prosecute known torturers present in its territory. Canada has incorporated this obligation into its domestic criminal code.”
In September of 2011, Cheney spoke at a private gathering in Vancouver, sparking massive protests that turned violent. Cheney was not able to leave the exclusive Vancouver Cub for seven hours, fearing for his safety.
That incident led Cheney to cancel a trip to Toronto six months later because, according to one of the promoters of the cancelled event, “in Canada the risk of violent protest was simply too high.”
Apparently, however, Cheney feels that enough time has passed for Canadians to have cooled off about his activities while Vice President of the United States.
Sources: Time.com, Lawyers Against The War, National Post, Toronto Star