Defending theHuman Rightto a Fair Trial
September 1, 2017
Fair Trials and PEN International have urged INTERPOL to do whatever necessary to prevent the abuse of its Red Notice systems, in a letter sent to the organisation’s Secretary General. The calls follow the arrest and detention of a number of prominent writers, known for their criticism the Turkish government.
Earlier this month, Hamza Yalcin and Dogan Akhanli were arrested in Spain, both incidents reportedly on the basis of INTERPOL Red Notices. The pair have been living in exile in Sweden and Germany respectively, having been forced to flee Turkey many years ago on account of persecution for the political views and their writings.
That INTERPOL has been open to abuse is not in dispute, with the German Chancellor joining the chorus voicing concern. INTERPOL has an important role to play in the fight against crime but each abusive request undermines their legitimacy. Fair Trials has seen a number of cases where Turkey have been able to use INTERPOL’s systems to target journalists, activists and refugees, which has resulted in arrests and detentions across Europe.
One such case was Bahar Kimyongür, a Belgian activist of Turkish descent who was the subject of an INTERPOL alert for nearly a decade, relating to allegations by Turkey that he is a member of a proscribed group. As a result of the alert, Bahar was arrested in the Netherlands, Italy and Spain. Fair Trials wrote to the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files (CCF), who concluded that the data provided by Turkey was not processed in compliance with INTERPOL’s rules, and recommended the removal of Bahar’s information from INTERPOL’s systems. However, since that time Bahar has continued to be stopped when travelling.
In July 2016, Fair Trials wrote to INTERPOL to alert them to the surge in arrest warrants issued against Turkish journalists in the aftermath of the attempted coup d’état. INTERPOL were asked to exercise particular caution to prevent Red Notices from being misused against journalists from Turkey, but this has not prevented these latest arrests.
You can read the letter here.
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