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NEWS

More transparency needed from INTERPOL presidency

admin - November 16, 2018 - INTERPOL

Fair Trials has written to INTERPOL ahead of their next General Assembly, to request more transparency in the process of electing their replacement for Meng Hongwei. Meng, whose resignation was accepted last month, hasn’t been seen in public since he disappeared in September.

Meng’s replacement is due to be elected at this year’s General Assembly, which takes place between 18 - 21 November in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The General Assembly is composed of delegates appointed by the governments of member countries, and this year, those delegates will vote for a new President to see out the remaining two years of the current mandate.

The new President will come in at a critical time for the international policing organisation. It’s been two years since the General Assembly adopted reforms to how INTERPOL operated, taking important steps to help prevent the misuse of its systems to target activists and refugees. As our new report, Dismantling the Tools of Oppression, makes clear, INTERPOL deserves credit for doing the right thing. These changes help to make the organisation a more effective tool in the fight against cross-border crime and other serious threats to international security. However, there is still so much room for improvement, and INTERPOL itself must be seen to be upholding its commitment to the reforms. This is why the appointment of the organisation’s new president is so crucial, and the world will be watching to see who replaces Meng.

We’ve written in the past about the fact that the operational control of INTERPOL sits with the Secretariat, whilst the role of the President and the Executive Committee is to provide broader strategic guidance to the organisation. We believe that such division of responsibilities is crucial for maintaining the independence and neutrality of the organisation, especially as the organisation continues its important work of implementing the reforms which were important first steps in preventing the abuse of its system of notices and diffusions

In light of this, we are calling on INTERPOL to increase the transparency relating to future Presidency appointments. It is clearly in the best interests of the international policing community to ensure that those appointed to such prominent and important positions are properly vetted beforehand. In the letter, Fair Trials urges INTERPOL to consider ensuring more timely and public information about individuals who put their names forward for such roles to allow effective prior scrutiny.

The Secretary General of INTERPOL, in a statement on 8th November, made clear that Meng was appointed not in a personal capacity but rather as “delegate of [China].” As such we believe that it is also imperative that the record of the country of which future Presidents are delegates is also subject to scrutiny. It would not be appropriate for a country with a record of violations of INTERPOL’s rules (for example by frequently seeking to use its systems to disseminate politically-motivated alerts) to be given a leadership role in a key oversight institution.

After Meng's disappearance, the new appointment will have more attention than has previously been the case, and we hope that this greater interest will be matched by greater transparency.

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please telephone Fair Trials’ press department on +44 (0) 20 7822 2370 or +32 (0) 2 360 04 71.

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