B.C.'s Criminal Justice Branch has blocked an attempt by a human rights group to prosecute former U.S. president George W. Bush.

The Canadian Centre for International Justice filed the private prosecution last Thursday, the same day Bush was in the Vancouver suburb of Surrey for a speaking engagement along with former U.S. president Bill Clinton.

The group submitted the case on behalf of three former and one current Guantanamo Bay detainees, who accuse the former commander-in-chief and his administration of orders that led to their torture.

Neil MacKenzie, spokesman for the Justice Branch, which makes decisions on criminal charges, says the proceedings were stayed because there was "no realistic prospect" the federal attorney general would grant consent.

The higher-level permission is required in cases involving people who are not Canadian citizens.

Matt Eisenbrandt, the group's legal director, says the intervention came only hours after a B.C. court agreed to hold a hearing in early January, and called the move a "slap in the face" of the men who were wronged.

Some 200 protesters called for Bush's arrest outside the business forum last week while the prosecution was being filed, including members of Amnesty International who argue he should be tried as a war criminal.