Case Studies

Patricia Poleo: INTERPOL abuse

Published:

Patricia Poleo, an award-winning anti-corruption journalist and vocal critic of Hugo Chavez, found herself subject to an INTERPOL Red Notice after she had fled Venezuela to claim political asylum in the US.

Patricia was a Venezuelan investigative journalist who had been threatened since her reporting of government involvement with Columbian rebels. She had been brought before military tribunals several times in Venezuela, prompting the Inter-American Commission to recommend that measures should be taken to protect her. She had also been the subject of a murder allegation which fell apart after the main witness revealed in an interview broadcast on national television that he had been paid to fabricate his evidence.

Having sought asylum in the US, Patricia was arrested on a trip to Peru and found out she was subject to a Red Notice. Her profile as a radical journalist was well-established at the time the Red Notice was issued. National news outlets had also reported the breakdown of a previous criminal allegation implicating Patricia and other oppositionists.

Despite the scale of information on Patricia in the public domain, and the fact that she had already been granted political asylum in the US, it still took 18 months for INTERPOL to accept that her Red Notice was politically motivated. In contrast to the time it has taken in other cases, this time frame was surprisingly swift. This is not the first time Venezuela has used Red Notices to harass critics; Patricia’s partner Nixon Moreno was also issued with a Red Notice.

Venezuela had more complaints made to the CCF than any other country in the region between 2012 and 2013.

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