OTTAWA (Reuters) - Amnesty International urged Canada on Wednesday to arrest former U.S. President George W. Bush for human rights abuses when he visits the province of British Columbia later this month.
Alex Neve, head of Amnesty's Canadian branch, said Bush had authorized the use of torture techniques such as waterboarding during his time as President, which ran from 2001 to 2009.
Canada's Conservative government did not respond to previous calls to arrest Bush, who has made at least two trips to Canada since his second four-year term in office ended.
"George W. Bush is responsible for a wide range of human rights violations - notably torture - which constitute crimes under international law," Neve told a news conference.
"Under both international and national law, Canadian authorities must launch a criminal investigation against the former President, arrest him ... and commence a prosecution against him," he said.
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 September 11 attacks on the United States.
No one was immediately available for comment in the office of federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who is responsible for the file. The U.S. embassy in Ottawa did not return a call seeking comment.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Peter Galloway)