Human Rights Watch is urging the Canadian government to "be prepared" to bring criminal charges against former U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney when he visits Vancouver on his book tour next week.
The New York-based rights group said Saturday that Canadian law provides for jurisdiction over an individual for torture and other crimes, even for offences committed outside of Canada.
Canada ratified the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture in 1987 and incorporated its provisions into the Canadian criminal code.
The rights group says it has documented the role of senior officials in the administration of George W. Bush, including Cheney, in authorizing torture of detainees, including waterboarding — a form of simulated drowning involving water being poured into the mouth of a subdued person.
"The U.S. has utterly failed to meet its legal obligation to investigate torture by the Bush administration, but that shouldn’t let other countries off the hook," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, in the release.
Human Rights Watch referenced two cases of alleged torture of Canadian citizens, Maher Arar and Omar Khadr, in which the U.S. was "directly responsible or complicit."
Cheney was instrumental in creating U.S. detainee policy and was a member of the government committee that approved interrogation policies, the group said.
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Cheney's new memoir, In My Time, details his continued support of harsh interrogation techniques, which he called "critically important" to national security.
And in an interview with NBC’s Today show in August, Cheney defended waterboarding as a "safe, legal and effective" method of interrogation, adding that only "a handful" of figures were subjected to the practice.
He’s promoting his memoir in Vancouver on Sept. 26.