Sunday

25th Feb 2018

Opinion

Strong safeguards underpin Interpol's mission for a safer world

  • Over 9,000 arrests were reported in 2012 across Interpol channels (Photo: INTERPOL)

As an international organisation mandated by its constitution to ensure the widest possible co-operation between all criminal police authorities, Interpol proudly believes each call for assistance by any of its 190 member countries deserves the same respect, just like the right to security by each of their citizens. Allowing prejudice or bias to guide Interpol's work places all Interpol member countries at risk.

When in 1998 Interpol issued a red notice against a Saudi national wanted for murder by Libya, it did so despite the active UN and US sanctions against the regime of the then Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi. Some even defined it as a “rogue,” “authoritarian,” or “pariah” regime. Yet Interpol evaluated and approved Libya's request, and Osama bin Laden’s name was entered into Interpol databases for the first time as a wanted murderer, four months before the tragic US embassy bombings in Africa by al-Qaeda.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Every request for Interpol notices requires an independent, case-by-case assessment. The nature of the subjects they typically target demands this. For instance, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) recently stated that “with the assistance of national authorities and Interpol” it “secured the apprehension of 83 of its 93 fugitives.” In parallel, since 2003 Rwanda has issued more than 240 Interpol notifications for individuals accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, of whom 29 have already been arrested or positively located.

The truth is, the overwhelming majority of requests by member countries seeking an arrest through Interpol raise no political issues. Either member countries respect Interpol's constitution and rules or Interpol deletes and blocks the suspect information from Interpol databases. This system works well, despite the handful of cases receiving global attention.

This is not to say that our notice system is invulnerable to mistakes. Interpol constantly works to improve. This resulted in a multi-layered system designed to ensure that Interpol tools serve the interests of all member countries while respecting our Constitutions and rules.

Our staff is trained to recognize indicators of potentially politically-motivated requests; our lawyers are experienced in handling them; interim measures protect the rights of individuals involved in arrest requests via Interpol that are under review.

When a request is found to violate Interpol's constitution and rules, the relevant nominal information is deleted from Interpol systems. Member countries are required to do the same nationally. When member countries fail to do so, Interpol takes steps to remind them and to ensure that the data is removed from their Interpol databases.

As an additional safeguard, the independent Commission for the Control of Interpol’s Files (CCF) can be contacted by individuals seeking to challenge any information recorded in Interpol's databases about them. The CCF is integrated in Interpol’s constitution and has the power to review all of Interpol’s work to make its determinations, while fully respecting an individual’s request for confidentiality. It does not take a full legal team, nor special authorisations from national authorities to engage the CCF. Any person can request it to take action by email or post.

Furthermore, far too many commentators routinely forget what constitutes Interpol’s supreme oversight body: its General Assembly, comprising all of its member countries. The use of Interpol channels can be challenged by countries involved, calling for a decision by the General Assembly. Here, each country - irrespective of economic resources, size, military might or political influence - has a single vote towards a majority ruling. There is no right to veto.

Therefore, the first question to anyone criticising Interpol for issuing a red notice is: "Has your country objected to the issuance?" If you cannot persuade your own country to object on your behalf, then don't criticise Interpol.

Indeed, under Interpol's rules any country can nullify Interpol's action if it disagrees with that decision. It can do it nationally. It can do it as a union of countries and it can seek such nullification globally.

Such a carefully crafted system allows Interpol to serve individual human rights and global security at the same time, without resorting to risky trade-offs. Definitely a more effective approach than politically motivated “temporary bans” against one country or another.

Over 9,000 arrests were reported in 2012 across Interpol channels, by a very diverse club of more than 100 countries. Eight thousand one hundred Interpol red notices were issued in 2012 alone - almost seven times the number recorded 10 years ago. In 2013, the US and two EU member countries are among their top users globally. Finally, almost half of wanted subjects currently in our nominal databases are from the European Union. Clearly, countries could not take Interpol “more seriously.”

Nonetheless, Interpol constantly strives to improve its work and welcomes constructive criticism. But as an organisation committed to serve all of the principles enshrined in its constitution, Interpol remains steadfast in protecting its independence and neutrality in handling each request for assistance by its member countries.

This article was written in response to the story "Interpol open to abuse by 'criminal states'," published in EUobserver on 27 August 2013.

Ronald K. Noble is the secretary general of Interpol

News in Brief

  1. EU calls for immediate ceasefire in Syria
  2. UK's post-Brexit vision is 'pure illusion', Tusk says
  3. EU leaders express solidarity with Cyprus in Turkey drill row
  4. EU to double funding for Sahel forces
  5. EU parliament president: 'The immigration problem is Africa'
  6. May to unveil EU departure strategy next week
  7. Pregnant workers may be dismissed, EU court rules
  8. Romanian minister demands anti-corruption prosecutor fired

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeAnkara Ban on LGBTI Events Continues as Turkish Courts Reject NGO Appeals
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU agrees budget to focus on defence, security and migration
  2. EU leaders nix transnational lists, cool on 'Spitzenkandidat'
  3. Regions chief: calls for smaller EU budget are 'impossible'
  4. Election fever picks up This WEEK
  5. EU-Morocco fishing deal casts doubt on EU future foreign policy
  6. EU leaders put 'Spitzenkandidat' on summit menu
  7. European far-right political party risks collapse
  8. The key budget issues on EU leaders' table

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  3. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  4. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  5. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  6. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  8. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  10. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission
  12. Dialogue PlatformWhat Can Christians Learn from a Global Islamic Movement?