Defending theHuman Rightto a Fair Trial
August 13, 2013
The ongoing abuse of INTERPOL endangers the safety of refugees across the world, Fair Trials International has warned. Writing for the Huffington Post, our Law Reform Officer Alex Tinsley (who has represented a number of clients subject to inaccurate red notices including West Papuan tribal leader Benny Wenda) explains how the international crime-fighting organisation has been used to persecute a number of refugees from afar.
Red notices can be requested by any of INTERPOL’s member countries and are used to flag up the fact that a person is wanted for arrest and extradition. In the last decade, the number of red notices has more than quadrupled and over 7,000 of these red notices are sent to police forces across the world each year. Fair Trials has serious concerns, however, that these important tools are being abused by countries in order to persecute journalists, activists and political opposition figures – a number of whom have refugee status.
One example is our client Petr Silaev (pictured) who fled violent persecution in Russia only to be arrested in Spain after Moscow issued an INTERPOL alert. Although the Spanish authorities refused to extradite Petr, INTERPOL had taken no steps to find out whether Petr was a refugee before sending his personal details to police offices in over 190 countries. Petr discusses the impact of his arrest in this video.
Alex also writes about the cases of Syed Abdel Latif and Mukhtar Ablyazov, both of which raise concerns about the protection of refugees. The case of Syed Abdel Latif, who sought asylum in Australia after feeling persecution in Egypt, generated political outrage when Latif was labelled as a dangerous terrorist by a senior Australian politician. Contrary to the information on the Egyptian red notice, Latif had not been found guilty of murder. He had in fact been convicted of membership of an illegal organisation – and only after a mass trial criticised for its reliance on evidence obtained by torture.
Fair Trials is calling on INTERPOL to reform its systems and to prevent this abuse. We are delighted that the world’s largest regional security organisation has echoed our concerns. As well as the impact on refugees and their human rights, cases like these have serious consequences for INTERPOL’s reputation and could damage the trust of police forces around the world and, in turn, the fight against serious crime.
Alex explains more about the campaign in this interview with Radio Free Europe.
If you are a journalist interested in this story, please telephone Fair Trials’ press department on 020 7822 2370 or 07950 849 851.
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