Dr.Dawg

Arrest Dick Cheney! [updated]

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If war criminal Richard Bruce “Dick” Cheney sets foot on Canadian soil today, it is nothing less than a civic duty to place him under immediate arrest. If the authorities refuse to act, then it is up to us.

We’re on solid ground in the latter case.* The Harper government is keen on citizen’s arrests. In this session of Parliament, it will reintroduce Bill C-60, to provide citizens with more powers and protections in this respect. But here’s the current language in the Criminal Code, which appears sufficient:

Section 494

(1) ARREST WITHOUT WARRANT BY ANY PERSON

Anyone may arrest without warrant(s)…

(b) a person who, on reasonable grounds, he believes

(i) has committed a criminal offence

If anyone deserves to be apprehended, trussed up and bundled off to the Hague for trial, it is Dick Cheney, an advocate of torture who legalized its use when he was Vice-President of the United States.

We are bound by international law (specifically, the Rome Statute to which we are a signatory), to apprehend war criminals on our soil. Canada is also a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture, which was flagrantly breached by Cheney while he was in office.

A citizen’s arrest of a public figure is not without its risks, of course. A Mohawk activist attempted to arrest George Bush here in 2009, but was thwarted by a peace officer, and eventually received a conditional discharge for obstruction.

Never mind. This has to be done. And the more citizens involved, the better.

Very recently the government circulated a “rogue’s gallery” of alleged undesirables, and encouraged us to turn them in. We were not privy, however, to the information that led to their listing as war criminals. They appear to be small fish, though, and some turned out to be unknown in their country of origin where their crimes were alleged to have been committed.

With Cheney, however, a very big fish indeed, everything is out in the open. Far from trying to conceal his crimes, rationalize them or apologize for them, he thinks the whole thing is funny.

Cheney won’t be the first visitor to Canada who has somehow slipped through a net that catches the small fry but lets the big ones escape. A few days ago we were (dis)graced with a visit by the racist Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s Minister of Defence, who has called for the wholesale deportation of non-Jewish Israeli citizens and the execution of Arab members of the Knesset. Now we are about to play host to a genuine, unrepentant war criminal.

The Harper government stands exposed for its staggering hypocrisy. If it refuses to act—if it permits Cheney to enter our country, or refuses to arrest him when he arrives—then justice is up to us. We have the right and the duty to effect a citizen’s arrest. The latter should exercised promptly and firmly, by any legal means necessary.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: * Not so fast, says commenter Peter, and he’s right. Mea culpa. That will teach me to go to the primary source (the Criminal Code of Canada) in future: the section I quoted omits a key clause that requires the citizen either to catch the miscreant in the act or in the process of fleeing to avoid arrest by a peace officer.

So a citizen attempting to arrest Cheney would find him or herself in the same position as David Chen, a Toronto store owner who was himself arrested for apprehending a persistent thief a short time after the theft actually occurred.

The good news is that Chen was acquitted. And, as noted, the government intends to widen the scope of a citizen’s arrest. But proceed at your own risk: there is at present no legal right for a citizen to arrest Cheney.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr.Dawg published on September 26, 2011 3:03 PM.

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