Tag: Syria

The INTERPOL General Assembly Has Just Set Its Priorities, and Human Rights is Not One of Them

The INTERPOL General Assembly Has Just Set Its Priorities, and Human Rights is Not One of Them

I don’t recall another year in which INTERPOL received as much criticism from the media and advocacy organizations for its handling of government abuse of its channels – and did so much more to validate that criticism.

INTERPOL Headquarters, Lyon, France

This year, the INTERPOL 89th General Assembly met in Turkey.  When the host was announced, many of us expressed our frustration.  Turkey is well known for abusing INTERPOL.  The most glaring example was reportedly its attempt to put numerous people accused of participating in the failed coup against president Erdogan on the INTERPOL wanted list.  As member countries’ delegates were preparing for their trip to Istanbul this year, the Turkish government complained about INTERPOL refusing to cooperate in some of those cases against the Gülen movement.  INTERPOL’s rules do not grant countries-hosts of its meetings any privileges when it comes to filling high posts within the organization or voting to amend its rules.  However, for a country accused of abusing INTERPOL, the expenses are still worth it – if INTERPOL accepts the invitation, the host country looks accepted as well despite its misconduct.

We then learned that INTERPOL had lifted the “corrective measures” that it imposed on Syria nine years earlier.  That announcement from INTERPOL made even bigger news, with numerous voices expressing concern for Syrian refugees whose risk of being detained and extradited had become even more real.

The New Mosque (Yeni Cami) in Istanbul, Turkey

Yet another cause for concern was the UAE and China, both known for abusing INTERPOL, and who both fought to have their nationals elected to the Executive Committee.  The INTERPOL president heads the Executive Committee which, among other things, supervises the execution of the General Assembly’s decisions and the General Secretariat’s work.  The 89th General Assembly approved the changes to INTERPOL’s rules that are supposed to make the elections of president and other members of the Executive Committee more transparent and the Code of Conduct for Executive Committee members, all of this only to elect the UAE representative INTERPOL’s new president the next day.  This happened despite the serious allegations and harrowing recollections published against the country’s regime.  China now has its national on the Executive Committee as well.  To complete the sad irony, this Executive Committee will vote to adopt the Code of Conduct for its members presented to it by the General Assembly.

What about the redress mechanism for the victims of INTERPOL abuse?  While the General Assembly approved the organization’s budget for 2022, the already strained budget of the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files responsible for adjudicating complaints from individuals challenging government use of INTERPOL’s resources was left virtually unchanged.  This is despite the growing number of cases before the Commission.  Finally, the 89th INTERPOL General Assembly did not consider the much-needed reforms necessary to guarantee victims of INTERPOL abuse due process.

Clearly, the majority of INTERPOL member countries do not take the abuse of the organization’s channels seriously.  If they did, the results of the 89th General Assembly would be very different – it would have selected a different president, passed the reforms to close the loopholes in the INTERPOL redress mechanism and significantly increased the budget of the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files.


Subscribe to receive new posts by email!