New York - Beaten. Chained to walls. Exposed to extreme temperatures. Deprived of food, water and sleep. Hassan bin Attash, Sami el- Hajj, Muhammed Khan Tumani and Murat Kurnaz suffered years of inhumane and illegal treatment while in U.S. custody either at Guantánamo Bay or in military bases in Afghanistan.
But when they sought justice in the form of legal action with the assistance of the Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ), the attorney general of British Columbia, who is under the Canadian attorney general, shut down the case the same day it was filed.
Previously, CCR and CCIJ had submitted two letters, one on Sep. 29 and another on Oct. 14, to Robert Nicholson, Canadian minister of justice and attorney general, with the first letter urging him to launch a criminal investigation against former U.S. President George W. Bush for "authorising and overseeing his administration's well- documented torture program".
Attash, currently detained at Guantánamo, has been imprisoned without formal charges for more than nine years. El-Hajj, Tumani and Kurnaz have all been released.
The attorney general took no action in response to the letters, so as promised, CCIJ submitted a private prosecution case on Oct. 20 on behalf of the four men. More than 50 human rights groups and prominent individuals supported the case.
As a signatory to the Convention Against Torture, Canada is "obligated to prosecute or extradite for prosecution anyone present in its territory for whom there is a reasonable belief he has committed torture", the Sep. 29 letter noted.