On 6 June 2018, the President of the Open Dialogue Foundation (ODF) addressed a letter to INTERPOL’s agencies in regard to the Mr. William Browder case. Mr. Browder was subjected to a sixth international arrest warrant issued by the Russian Federation. Once more, the Russian authorities were acting as a serial abuser of INTERPOL mechanisms. The violation of Article 3 of the INTERPOL Constitution by non-democratic states has become a common practice that should be tackled by INTERPOL through an effective implementation of the reforms announced.
On 30 May 2018, Mr. Browder, the British driving-force behind the Global Magnitsky Law and famous opponent of Putin’s Russia, was arrested in Spain on the basis of an international arrest warrant requested by the Russian Federation. Mr. Browder is known for his worldwide campaign for sanctions against Russian officials guilty of human rights abuses.
According to Article 3 of the INTERPOL Constitution, “political […] character” behind a states’ request is “strictly forbidden”. However, such a ban does not prevent non-democratic states, the Federation of Russia leading the way, from regularly delivering international arrests warrants on the basis of political motivations. In order to avoid misuse of the Organisation’s mechanisms, requests coming from violating states should be carefully and systematically inspected by INTERPOL, thus guaranteeing an objective interpretation. It is not the first time that the Russian Federation has abused the INTERPOL system, as exemplified by numerous other cases, thus contributing to the increase in the number of victims of abusive Red Notices.
As part of the Open Dialogue Foundation (ODF) campaign for the reform of INTERPOL, Ms. Lyudmyla Kozlovska addressed in a letter the Secretary General of INTERPOL, Mr. Jürgen Stock, and the Chairperson of the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files, Mr. Vitalie Pirlog. In her communication, Ms. Kozlovska also provided some recommendations, urging INTERPOL to attentively inspect requests coming from the National Central Bureaus of non-democratic regimes, and to publish a report with statistics on violating countries and be consistent with its system’s rules concerning their restriction on the use of INTERPOL databases.
Since 2013, ODF has been actively involved in promoting the reform of the INTERPOL system, advocating on behalf of victims of politically motivated Red Notices and illegal extradition requests in post-Soviet countries.
Here the full text of the letter signed by Ms. Lyudmyla Kozlovska:
“A number of human rights non-governmental organisations, including the Open Dialogue Foundation, welcomed the reforms announced by the General Assembly of INTERPOL in November 2016, aimed at further monitoring and preventing violations of the Organisation’s rules. While the Open Dialogue Foundation acknowledges the constructive cooperation with civil society and international organisations, we wish to highlight the lack of effective implementation, which is facilitating the abuse of INTERPOL’s system by non-democratic regimes in their pursuit of individuals on political grounds. The most blatant example of a violation of Article 3 of the INTERPOL Constitution is, once again, the case of Mr. William Browder, a British citizen and outspoken critic of Putin’s regime, who was arrested in Spain on 30 May 2018 on the basis of a sixth arrest warrant requested by the Russian Federation.
Mr. William Browder is the founder of Hermitage Capital Management and leader of the global Magnitsky justice campaign. He was accused of ‘economic crimes’ and ‘murder’ by Russia and labelled ‘a serial killer’ for having successfully carried out an anti-corruption campaign against corrupt high-ranking Russian officials. INTERPOL’s rule, according to which the Organisation bodies and its member States should refrain from political offences, has been systematically violated by the authorities of the Russian Federation in the case of Mr. Browder.
Consistent mechanisms to sanction the violating states, such as the Russian Federation, should be promptly implemented in order to avoid future misuse of INTERPOL’s system. Furthermore, the case of Mr. Browder has clearly demonstrated the manner in which authoritarian states persecute political opponents abroad or even if they are citizens of democratic states.
The Open Dialogue Foundation hereby encourages the Organisation to monitor statistics of infractions on the part of the Russian Federation and to apply the rules of INTERPOL which prescribe restrictions on the use of databases by violating states. In addition, we encourage INTERPOL’s agencies to carefully and systematically inspect requests coming from the National Central Bureaus of autocratic countries. It is important to present a public report of those countries who systematically abuse the mechanism of INTERPOL and to present information as to what measures have been applied to them.
With this address, we wish to align with numerous appeals of the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the OSCE PA and the parliaments of the EU Member States and emphasise that we look forward to a consistent reform of the system.
Mrs. Lyudmyla Kozlovska,
President of the Open Dialogue Foundation”
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