OTTAWA — Canada brushed off Amnesty International's call Wednesday to arrest former U.S. President George W. Bush for human rights abuse, saying the organization was engaging in cheap stunts.
Amnesty said Bush — due to attend an event in the province of British Columbia on Oct. 20 — had authorized the use of torture techniques such as waterboarding during his time as President, which ran from 2001 to 2009.
Canada's right-of-center Conservative government made it clear there was little chance officials would arrest Bush, who has made at least two trips to Canada since his second four-year term in office ended.
"Amnesty International cherry-picks cases to publicize based on ideology. This kind of stunt helps explain why so many respected human rights advocates have abandoned Amnesty International," Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said.
Kenney noted in an email that in the past, Amnesty had not asked for Canada to bar Cuban leader Fidel Castro, even though the rights organization itself said he had presided over "arbitrary arrests, detention, and criminal prosecution".
Alex Neve, head of Amnesty's Canadian branch, said earlier in the day that Bush was responsible for a wide range of human rights violations that constituted crimes under international law.
"Canadian authorities must launch a criminal investigation against the former president, arrest him . . . and commence a prosecution against him," he told a news conference.
In February, rights groups said Bush canceled a visit to Switzerland because of the threat of legal action against him for alleged torture.
Bush defends the use of waterboarding, which simulates the sensation of drowning, as key to preventing a repeat of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
The U.S. embassy in Ottawa did not return a call seeking comment.
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