The International Criminal Police Organisation – INTERPOL – is an international body that aims at combating transnational crime through direct collaboration of its member states and their police departments. Interpol is based on the principle of good will and should be as politically neutral as possible in order to ensure the functioning in the full respect of the basic human rights.
Over the past years, however, it has become clear that there is a need for reform within Interpol. International non-governmental organisations, including the Open Dialogue Foundation, have identified and brought to light a series of clearly politically motivated cases, which went through the Interpol system, abusing its very basic ideals. Unfortunately, the principle of good will does not stand a chance against some of the members of the Interpol network, which do not respect basic human rights and civil freedoms, and use Interpol, including its Red Notice system, to pursue political opposition, independent journalists or civil society activists critical of the authorities in their home countries.
The need for discussion on the reform of Interpol has now been acknowledged also by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. During its last session in Strasbourg (23-27 June 2014), PACE members supported a motion for a resolution on the abusive use of the Interpol system and decided to study the issue further and produce conclusions and recommendations in the form of a report.
The motion was initiated by a Dutch MP, Pieter Omtzigt, and was co-signed and supported by a number of members from across different CoE member states and different political parties.
The Open Dialogue Foundation welcomes the initiative by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to study the issue further and to raise discussion on the need to provide stronger legal safeguards and introduce more transparency in the functioning of the Interpol system. We continue our work aimed at raising awareness of the problem among the member states and are glad to see more and more international organisations and European institutions joining in.
In fact, during its last session in Baku (27 June – 2 Jule 2014), the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE also recognised the need for Interpol reform. In point 128 of the Baku Declaration, the OSCE PA assumes a clear stance in the discussion, with a call to all its member states:
“[OSCE PA] Urges all OSCE participating States to encourage the reform of INTERPOL to avoid the political use of Red Notices, which are currently being used in some countries to round up political opponents instead of for legitimate law enforcement purposes”
We do hope that Interpol, now with a newly elected Secretary General, will also realise the need to address the question of politically motivated use of its mechanisms. A reform of Interpol would benefit all interested parties, including the Interpol itself, as politically motivated cases undermine the credibility of the organisation.