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The ODF on a 2-days mission to the Italian Parliament discussing the reform of INTERPOL and victims of abusive Red Notices

Between Tuesday 11 and Wednesday 12 July, 2017, the Open Dialog Foundation met in Rome with representatives of NGOs and members of the Italian Senate and Chamber of Deputies. The 2-days visit was an opportunity to discuss individual cases of victims of abusive Red Notices, the reform of INTERPOL’s system and human rights situation in Kazakhstan and Moldova.

A delegation composed of Mrs Lyudmyla Kozlovska, the President of the Open Dialog Foundation, Mrs Ana Ursachi, Moldovan lawyer and human rights defender and Mrs Alma Shalabayeva, Kazakh political refugee in Italy and wife of Kazakh dissident, Mukhtar Ablyazov, addressed the issue of misuse of Interpol’s Red Notice List, an international tool of police cooperation exploited by authoritarian states to unlawfully persecute opponents and critics of the regimes abroad.

Constructive cooperation with Deputies and Senators from different political groups, members of the Foreign and EU Affairs and Human Rights Committees; as well as prominent representatives from the Italian Radical Party and the Italian League for Human Rights has proven to be effective in rethinking the efficiency and fairness of Interpol’s system. Members of the Italian Parliament will, indeed, monitor closely the discussed cases and will continue to work to prevent further abusive arrest warrants through Interpol.

During the meetings, MPs were informed about gross violations involving Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Moldova, along with recommendations to avoid future politically motivated abuses. Particularly, the development of a mechanism which would prevent or remove a person from the wanted list after the court has issued a decision banning the extradition because politically motivated, or after political asylum has been granted. A special mechanism which would allow for the removal from the international wanted list of persons who cannot be granted a refugee status due to their stay in a non-democratic country, was also discussed.

Urgent cases concerning political prosecution via Interpol and different international instruments in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan were raised – such as the cases of Anatoliy Pogorelov and Victor Khrapunov’s family, prosecuted because former associates and family members of the Kazakh dissident Mukhtar Ablyazov or the Azerbaijani citizens and human rights activists, Leyla and Arif Yunus, and Ferid Yusub, who ran afoul of the influential politician Emin Shekinskiy.

Similarly in Moldova, there are cases of individuals who may be put on Interpol’s Red Notice List because of their opposition activities against Vlad Plahotniuc’s regime. For example, the criminal persecution of a Moldovan lawyer and a human rights defender Ana Ursachi and of a businessman and an activist who refused to censor independent media, Alexandru Machedon.

Bilateral meetings were also an opportunity to discuss the worrying human rights situation and the recent episodes of repressions in Kazakhstan and Moldova. Kazakhstani authorities are pursuing the oil workers Amin Eleusinov and Nurbek Qushaqbaev; the activists Talgat Ayan and Maks Bokayev; the jailed Kazakh journalist Zhanbolat Mamay and the political prisoner Mukhtar Dzhakishev.

Eventually in Moldova, repressions against independent judges, lawyers and civil activists have intensified. It is so in the case of the judge Dorin Munteanu, who refused to issue the politically motivated warrant against Mrs Ursachi and now faces oppression himself or of Domnica Manole, an independent judge from the Appellate Court of Chisinau.