No Right to a Hearing

No Right to a Hearing

INTERPOL Headquarters, Lyon, France

Under the CCF Operating Rules adopted in 2008 and abrogated in 2017, “[t]he Commission shall not meet requesting parties, or their duly appointed agents or legal representatives, other than in exceptional circumstances if, after examining the case, it considers this necessary.”  In the past, CCF questioned the need to exercise the power to hold hearings, reasoning that “given INTERPOL’s limited role and the fact that it is not competent to question national arrest warrants, it is difficult to see what benefit could be served by a hearing.” Fair Trials, Strengthening Respect for Human Rights, Strengthening INTERPOL, § 216 (Nov. 2013).  Fair Trials International has rightfully disagreed:

“[P]roperly interpreted, Article 3 should include a political motivation test, which requires a more complete assessment of the background of the case, the profiles of the individual and the requesting country, the person’s evidence, and analysis of extradition and asylum decisions.  Open discussion could be conducive to all of these.  Of course, systemically holding hearings would risk slowing proceedings down, but excluding the possibility altogether needlessly removes a useful option.” Id.

The 2008 CCF Operating Rules were abrogated in 2017 once the Statute and new CCF Operating Rules entered into force.  Under the Statute, “[t]he [CCF] Requests Chamber shall examine a request on the basis of written submissions.  Hearings may be held only if deemed necessary by the Requests Chamber for the examination of requests.”  Therefore, the new rule differs from the old rule in one respect only – it does not limit the Commission to holding hearings in exceptional circumstances and instead gives it the power to grant a hearing whenever it deems it necessary.  INTERPOL’s rules did not specify what would constitute “exceptional circumstances” under the now abrogated 2008 CCF Operating Rules, effectively leaving it to the Commission to decide whether such circumstances existed in any particular case.  Unfortunately, if the new rule was intended to encourage the Commission to exercise its power to hold hearings, no changes seem to have taken place in this regard – to this day there seems to be no known case in which CCF has held a hearing.

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