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NEWS

Fair Trials highlights abuses of INTERPOL’s systems by former Soviet states

editor - December 19, 2017 - #INTERPOL

Interpol statesFair Trials has highlighted some of the recent abuses of INTERPOL’s systems in the former Soviet Union, in an essay which has been published this month as part of a new report by the Foreign Policy Centre (FPC) - entitled ‘Closing the Door: the challenge facing activists from the former Soviet Union seeking asylum or refuge’.  The report is an essay collection featuring contributions from a range of different experts in the field of human rights and refugees in the Former Soviet Union, including Fair Trials Legal and Policy Officer, Bruno Min. His essay ‘INTERPOL reforms and the challenges ahead for cross-border cooperation’, highlights some of the recent cases of abusive wanted person alerts in the Former Soviet Union, as well as wider issues related to the abuse of INTERPOL’s systems globally.

The essay explores how the crucial role that INTERPOL plays in international policing is sometimes exploited by member states that use INTERPOL’s systems to issue international ‘wanted person alerts’ for political purposes, usually against human rights defenders, journalists, activists and dissidents. Although INTERPOL’s policies mean that any politically motivated alerts (which includes Red Notices and Diffusions) should not be published, the essay references just some of the recent abusive arrests that have been documented, these particular ones against journalists in Ukraine that were issued by Former Soviet states including Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. These arrest warrants can have far-reaching consequences for those who are the subject of one. From the risk of being arrested every time a person leaves the country to potentially being denied refugee status, INTERPOL alerts have the power to severely impact people’s lives for years. It was revealed earlier this year that INTERPOL would be reviewing tens of thousands of ‘wanted person’ notices in order to ascertain whether they were politically motivated. You can read more on individuals who have been targeted through abusive INTERPOL arrest warrants and the impact it has had on their lives on our Cases of Injustice page.

Fair Trials has been campaigning since 2012 to improve INTERPOL’s procedural safeguards and review mechanisms, and several of our recommendations have been incorporated into INTERPOL’s policies and the statute of the Commission for the Control of Files (CCF) over the last few years. We outline the changes that INTERPOL has made, as well as some of the extra steps that it could take to protect human rights in our consultation report ‘Strengthening INTERPOL: An Update’ which was published earlier in 2017.

As well as exploring these recent reforms in more detail, the essay in the FPC’s new report explores the more problematic topic of how effectively these reforms are being implemented, an issue that has been reinforced by the aforementioned arrests that have occurred in the Former Soviet Union, as well as other recent arrests which have gained global media attention. INTERPOL faces multifaceted challenges in reviewing and halting politically motivated alerts, as well as in providing an effective appeal mechanism through the CCF, which deals with potential cases of misuse. Despite these challenges, the essay outlines how INTERPOL has the chance to set international human rights standards for regional and international cross border policing mechanisms. Over the past couple of decades, there has been a growth in the number of regional information sharing mechanisms which could potentially put individuals at risk of wrongful and politically motivated arrests. INTERPOL therefore has the opportunity to set a leading example when it comes to weeding out politically motivated alerts and providing a fast and effective appeal mechanism to people.

Fair Trials has continued to engage with INTERPOL itself on these issues, and earlier this month the Chief Executive of Fair Trials, Jago Russell, and Legal and Policy Officer, Bruno Min, met with INTERPOL representatives at the INTERPOL Secretariat in Lyon. The meeting was an opportunity to discuss Fair Trials’ consultation report Strengthening INTERPOL: An Update, which Fair Trials plans to publish in full at the beginning of 2018, after receiving input and consultation from a range of different experts, including INTERPOL itself.

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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. For regular updates follow Fair Trials on Twitter and Facebook or sign up to our newsletter at the bottom of the page. CFB iconlick to share this story on Facebook

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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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