For Some INTERPOL Member Countries, Suspension and Expulsion Might Soon Become Real After All

For Some INTERPOL Member Countries, Suspension and Expulsion Might Soon Become Real After All

When it comes to INTERPOL abuse, the most noticeable item on the agenda of the 90th INTERPOL General Assembly (October 18-21, 2022) was the proposal to amend the INTERPOL Constitution to provide for the suspension and expulsion of member countries from the organization.  Currently, neither the Constitution nor any other INTERPOL rule allows for this.  The strictest sanction an INTERPOL member country may face is a long-term suspension of “processing” rights, specifically, the right to record, consult and download data in (from) INTERPOL’s databases.  Such suspension, however, would not affect a country’s other powers as a member of the organization.

INTERPOL Headquarters, Lyon, France

Calls to expel states-abusers are nothing new.  They have been growing for years, even after INTERPOL carried out several reforms to its redress mechanism in 2016-17.  To the public, the organization has been presenting the reforms as a significant step towards the protection of victims of the abuse of its resources.  In practice, however, the abuse does not seem to be receding at all, if not the other way around.  That is because the reforms have closed very few, of many, loopholes that contribute to the abuse, and since then, INTERPOL has demonstrated no readiness for any further steps towards curbing it.

In Resolution GA-2022-90-RES-02, the 90th General Assembly tasks the Working Group to Review Legal Provisions Relating to INTERPOL’s Governance Bodies with “mak[ing] comprehensive review of and propos[ing] modifications to INTERPOL’s legal texts in order to put in place criteria for the expulsion or suspension of a Member and the corresponding procedure that are in conformity with the current practice of international organizations and which would ensure transparency and consistency of the process.”  Clearly, when it comes to suspension or expulsion of its members, INTERPOL does not want to stand out among other international organizations.

It is unlikely, however, that INTERPOL will be able to borrow an already existing mechanism without significantly tailoring it to its unique mission.  Expulsion or suspension of just one member country may negatively affect regional and global security.  In addition to the information about individuals wanted for criminal prosecutions, INTERPOL provides access to data that helps to identify missing persons, rescue crime victims as well as other information crucial for legitimate criminal investigations.  That is why, most likely, the Working Group will propose a very high threshold for both suspension and expulsion of member states.  However, whatever the Working Group’s proposal may be, the General Assembly has made it very clear — there must be a path to suspend and expel a member state.  Accordingly, the Working Group is unlikely to advise against such a path, and it is now faced with a very challenging task.

A mechanism for suspension or expulsion of member countries is bound to force INTERPOL to address yet another important issue, its lack of transparency.  The General Assembly’s Resolution calls for “transparency” in the suspension and expulsion process.  However, there can be no transparency without INTERPOL publishing the information about the full extent of the abuse of its resources (including the names of countries-abusers and the nature and number of their violations), which the organization has never done before.  INTERPOL is the only source of such information, and, to this day, it has published virtually nothing in this regard.  It would be impossible for INTERPOL to achieve the desired transparency without finally, after years of unpunished abuse, becoming fully transparent about those who use its resources to persecute rather than prosecute.

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