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NEWS

Fair Trials and REDRESS organise expert meeting of the UN Committee against Torture and INTERPOL

editor - December 18, 2015 - extradition, INTERPOL, red notice, Torture, UNCAT

UNGACountries rely increasingly on INTERPOL’s “wanted person” alerts system to fight serious cross-border crime by securing the arrest and extradition of fugitives. This important policing tool can, however, have serious implications for the human rights protected by the UN Convention Against Torture (the “Convention”). Despite INTERPOL’s constitutional commitment to respecting human rights, its “wanted person” alerts system can be used to seek a person’s extradition to countries where they face a real risk of torture or prosecutions based on torture evidence.
This risk is shown by the case of Djamel Ktiti who was the subject of an INTERPOL alert (Red Notice) published by Algeria for six years, despite a finding by the UN Committee against Torture (the “UNCAT”) in 2011 that his extradition would violate the Convention due to the unacceptable risk of the prosecution being based on evidence obtained by torture and the high risk of torture if Mr Ktiti were extradited. After arresting Mr Ktiti due to the Red Notice, both Spain and Morocco ultimately refused to extradite him on the basis of the UNCAT decision. Despite the published decision of the UNCAT and the extradition refusals by national courts, INTERPOL did not remove the Red Notice until 2015 following a joint application by Fair Trials and REDRESS to INTERPOL.
The potential for abuse of INTERPOL’s alerts system was the subject of an expert meeting of the UNCAT, coordinated by Fair Trials and REDRESS, on 7th December, in Geneva. During the three-hour meeting, the UNCAT heard from INTERPOL’s General Secretariat, the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files (the body which is responsible for processing requests submitted by individuals for deletion of their personal information from INTERPOL’s databases), Fair Trials and REDRESS before offering insights into its own procedures and jurisprudence. Presentations were also provided by a member of the UN Human Rights Committee (which also receives individual complaints relating to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment) and the UN Petitions and Inquiries Section (which coordinates the individual complaints process for UN human rights treaty bodies).
Redress logoThe meeting provided a valuable opportunity for the UNCAT to inform INTERPOL’s ongoing process of reform to protect the fundamental human rights of people like Mr Ktiti, whose rights are severely affected by its work. In particular, the meeting provided an opportunity to consider how INTERPOL could draw on the UNCAT’s own jurisprudence when defining its human right obligations and deciding whether to publish or maintain individual alerts.
Fair Trials and REDRESS look forward to working with the UNCAT and INTERPOL to build upon the conversation which began in Geneva and to contribute to reform which will improve INTERPOL’s ability to prevent its valuable systems undermining the protection of individuals from serious human rights violations.

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please telephone Fair Trials’ press department on 020 7822 2370 or 07950 849 851.
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If you are a journalist interested in this story, please telephone Fair Trials’ press department on +44 (0) 20 7822 2370 or +32 (0) 2 360 04 71.

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