I would like to help today and donate

Next
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Next
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
CLOSE
NEWS

European Commission acknowledges dangers of INTERPOL abuse

admin - August 16, 2018 - INTERPOL

Bahar smaller.jpg

The European Commission have acknowledged Turkey’s misuse of INTERPOL and other methods relied upon to target dissidents, in response to a letter from Fair Trials. However, although the letter recognises the persecution faced by dissidents from countries like Turkey, the Commission largely places the onus of preventing persecution elsewhere, stating that it is “first and foremost for INTERPOL and its member countries to address weaknesses in the system and put in place the necessary measures to prevent such abuse of INTERPOL’s procedures.”

The response came to a letter from Fair Trials to the President of the European Commission in April, in which Fair Trials urged the Commission to do more to prevent Turkey from persecuting critics abroad. Turkey’s history of abusing INTERPOL is well documented (including in the cases of Bahar Kimyongur, and Dogan Akhanli), but the regime is now finding new methods of exporting persecution outside its borders.

We have previously written about the Turkish authorities’ website ‘Terör arananlar’, which effectively puts bounties on alleged terrorists, offering up to nearly 600,000 euros in reward money for information that leads to capture. Included on the list of ‘terrorists’ are figures like Kimyongur, whose ‘crimes’ included a peaceful protest against Turkish authorities in the European Parliament. You can see the protest online here. In their response, the Commission committed to investigating the site, as well as continuing to “refer the issue in its ongoing exchanges with the Turkish authorities.”

Through the use of these platforms, including INTERPOL’s channels, Turkey is able to pursue legitimate protesters and human rights defenders abroad, effectively sidestepping the international laws designed to protect them. By putting a price on the heads of its enemies online, Turkey is attempting to use fear to silence its opponents, many of whom have been attacked on European soil. Take the case of the three Kurdish activists who were stabbed in March 2017 by supporters of Turkey’s ruling party – the attack took place outside the Turkish consulate in Brussels.

It is a sign of how far our campaign to raise awareness of the abuse of INTERPOL’s systems has come that the EU Commission is now willing to acknowledge that “INTERPOL’s Red Notice system has been used for political purposes in a number of cases”, and that is of “great concern, as it can have a significant impact on the persons involved.” In October 2017, the Commission for Justice, Vera Jourova, expressed concern about the use of INTERPOL’s Red Notice system for political purposes in a plenary debate in the European Parliament.

These concerns were further raised with INTERPOL directly at its November 2017 Senior Official Meeting between the two groups. The issue was due to be discussed again in their June meeting of this year.

More important than the acknowledgement of the problems is the search for solutions. INTERPOL have introduced a number of changes in the last few years, including better protections for refugees targeted through the Red Notice and Diffusion systems. Under the new system, the processing of notices and diffusions against refugees will not be allowed if the status of refugee or asylum-seeker has been confirmed. It’s still early days for these reforms, but a detailed analysis of the changes introduced so far will be published in a new Fair Trials report in September. However, as Fair Trials highlighted in our letter to the Commission, as Turkey continues to find innovative new ways to export persecution, it is the job of the international community to keep up with these new developments. International institutions such as the EU must do more to respond to political persecution, not just with condemnation, but with improved protections and concrete policies for refugees and asylum seekers subject to abuse.

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.

Keep up to date

Receive updates on our work and news about Fair Trials globally

Activities in the following sections on this website are supported by the Justice Programme of the European Union: Legal Experts Advisory Panel, Defence Rights Map, Case Law Database, Advice Guides and Latest News. More information about our financial supporters is available here.