INTERPOL must improve due diligence on Red Notices following unlawful extradition of Bahraini political dissident
Fair Trials, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) and Human Rights Watch have said that INTERPOL’s response to the unlawful extradition of Bahraini political dissident Ahmed Jaafar Mohammed Ali, is inadequate.
The criticism comes after reports that Ali was beaten by a policeman on 21 February while in prison in Bahrain.
Fair Trials, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) and Human Rights Watch have written to the General Secretary of INTERPOL, Jürgen Stock, to demand the organisation improve due diligence on Red Notices requested by the Bahraini government, following the unlawful extradition of Bahraini political dissident Ahmed Jaafar Mohammed Ali on 24 January. Jaafar’s extradition was triggered by an INTERPOL Red Notice. It took place in flagrant violation of an interim measure issued by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on 21 January, which ordered that Jaafar should not be extradited to Bahrain until the Serbian government had responded to the ECtHR’s questions, including on whether Serbia considered the possible risk of torture Jaafar would face in Bahrain.
We also asked INTERPOL to:
- Explain what steps INTERPOL took to check Bahrain’s Red Notice request against Ahmed Jaafar for compliance with articles 2 and 3 of INTERPOL’s Constitution, and of the basis on which INTERPOL allowed this Red Notice to be issued;
- Conduct an urgent thorough review on all Red Notices and Diffusions requested by Bahrain, in particular those relating to alleged anti-terrorism charges;
- Disclose what specific steps INTERPOL will take to prevent similar cases of misuse of Red Notices requested by Bahrain in the future;
- Provide the number of:
- Red Notices and diffusions from Bahrain currently in circulation;
- The number of Red Notices requests made by Bahrain since 2011; and
- The number of Red Notice requests of Bahrain rejected by INTERPOL.
In their response, INTERPOL stated that it “welcomes information provided by civil society, which could contribute to the review of new or potential requests, as well as existing notices and diffusions” but fails to acknowledge that Fair Trials wrote to them in 2016 warning of potential abuses of the red Notice system by Bahrain. In addition, the lack of transparency from INTERPOL means that civil society organisations don’t know if their input is having an effect on INTERPOL’s processes.
Read the letter from Fair Trials, BIRD and HRW.
Read the response from INTERPOL below:
“To reinforce the Red Notice review process, in 2016 a specialized task forced was created at the General Secretariat to check every Red Notice request from every member country for compliance with INTERPOL’s Constitution and rules prior to its publication.
This review takes into account information available at the time of publication.
On a regular basis, the task force reviews existing Red Notices to ensure they continue to comply with the conditions for their publication. The task force also re-examines cases whenever new and relevant information is brought to the attention of the General Secretariat after a Red Notice has been published.
The General Secretariat welcomes any information that may impact the continued compliance of a Notice with its Constitution and rules. Indeed, all member countries are expected to share with the General Secretariat any information that may facilitate the review of Notices and Diffusions.
The General Secretariat also welcomes information provided by civil society, which could contribute to the review of new or potential requests, as well as existing notices and diffusions.
Under INTERPOL’s Refugee Resolution (GA-2017-86-RES-09), if a member country confirms an individual’s refugee status, and the individual is the subject of a Notice or Diffusion requested by the country where the individual fears persecution, INTERPOL will delete the Notice or Diffusion and inform all member countries of their obligations to update their databases to reflect the deletion.
With the appropriate safeguards in place, INTERPOL considers it best practice for member countries to proactively share refugee-related information. Where such information is shared, INTERPOL’s rules require the protection of the confidentiality of such information and the anonymity of the member country as requested.
As you correctly state in the letter, INTERPOL is not involved in extraditions and the General Secretariat would again clarify that it was not informed, or involved in any way about this extradition.
We would also clarify that no individual member of the Executive Committee, including the President, has any involvement or influence in the decision making process to publish or cancel a Red Notice.
Similarly, as a member of the Executive Committee, no individual is involved in either the arrest or extradition of Red Notice subjects.
Any individual or their legal representative may exercise the right to request access to data related to them and seek modification or deletion of the data. Such requests, which are free of charge, are reviewed by the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files (CCF), an independent adjudicative body which assesses individual requests related to data and its compliance with INTERPOL’s Constitution and Rules for Processing Data.
The CCF is not part of the General Secretariat and it is legally empowered to issue final and binding decisions on the Organization.
Additional information about the CCF, including its annual reports and selected decisions, can be found here.”