Thursday

21st Feb 2019

EU in talks with Interpol on political abuse

  • Maasikas: German and Swedish foreign ministers asked Estonia for EU action (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

EU states are in talks with Interpol to help stop political abuse of the police agency, Estonia has said.

The issue has become of "great concern" to EU states, Estonia's deputy minister for EU affairs, Matti Maasikas, told MEPs in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday (4 October).

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  • Russia has used Interpol to attack political opponents in Estonia (Photo: interpol.org)

He said an EU-Interpol committee would "discuss possible improvements of Interpol systems" with the police body at a meeting on 20 November.

Maasikas said Germany and Sweden had asked Estonia, which currently holds the EU presidency, to tackle the subject.

He said "it is important that a proper review takes place of the Red Notice before issuance" and that an "effective redress mechanism exists" for people who end up as Interpol targets.

A Red Notice is an Interpol request for member states to detain and hand over suspects.

The EU concern comes after after Turkey filed Red Notices against a dissident writer and two journalists in Europe - Dogan Akhnali, Hamza Yalcin, and Can Dundar.

Interpol states are not obliged to honour red alerts, but Spain arrested Akhnali and Yalcin while they were visiting the country, where they are now fighting extradition to Turkey.

MEPs said Azerbaijan, China, Iran, Kazakhstan, and Russia also used Interpol to hunt political adversaries.

"We need to speak out when there are instances of repression and to make sure there are safeguards," Claude Moraes, a centre-left British MEP, said.

He said there should be "necessity and proportionality checks carried out on Red Notices from some countries" to stop "obvious abuses of human rights".

Interpol is an intergovernmental body based in Lyon, France.

It has no outside oversight, but its 1957 charter says Red Notices should not be issued for political, military, religious, or racist motives.

Vera Joureva, the EU commissioner for justice affairs, told MEPs that she was "aware that Interpol's Red Notice system has been used for political purposes".

She said the European Commission had no mandate to influence its work, but she said Interpol was putting in place new rules to stop people who had obtained asylum overseas from being targeted.

Estonia's Maasikas said it would not be practical to hold a full judicial review of each Red Notice case before an alert was issued.

He added that EU states had not made up their mind how the police body should safeguard its work.

"We are in a situation where [EU] member states are members of an international organisation where there is no agreed common EU line or policy", he said.

'I thought I was safe in Europe'

Arrest of Turkish dissident has again highlighted the way rogue regimes use Interpol to hunt their enemies inside the EU.

Opinion

Interpol and the EU: don't play politics

Debate on the EU police agency threatens to undermine its neutrality and the treatment of individuals who cannot enlist political support.

Opinion

Interpol needs EU help to stop abuse

The international police agency needs powerful actors to support its work and its reforms, and the EU can and should provide a positive influence.

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