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INTERPOL Reform in action: Azerbaijani Refugee’s Red Notice deleted

editor - September 18, 2015 - INTERPOL, red notice, Refugee

INTERPOL have deleted the Red Notice against Azer Samadov, an Azerbaijani opposition figure and recognised refugee.

According to his legal team, Azerbaijani dissident Azer Samadov has finally had his Red Notice removed, eight years after it was first issued, in a decision that appears to be in line with INTERPOL's new policy on the processing of Red Notices against refugees. The decision means that Azer will finally be free to carry on with his life, as highlighted by Azer’s lawyer, Tomasz Kodrzycki: “Today’s decision raises hope again that INTERPOL have stepped up their efforts in granting individuals legal protection against certain states’ abuse of INTERPOL's global reach.”

The new policy, which was announced earlier this year, provides that:

In general, the processing of Red Notices and diffusions against refugees will not be allowed if the following conditions are met:

1)  the status of refugee or asylum-seeker has been confirmed;

2) the notice/diffusion has been requested by the country where the individual fears persecution;

3)  the granting of the refugee status is not based on political grounds vis-à-vis the requesting country.

This reform, which was originally announced following a meeting with Fair Trials in March, is a real step forward in helping to change the way that the INTERPOL Red Notice system operates. Fair Trials has long underlined the need for better protection of refugees in the INTERPOL system. Key cases like those of Vicdan Özerdem (a Turkish journalist refugee arrested in Croatia) and Petr Silaev (a Russian anti-fascist refugee arrested in Spain for ‘hooliganism’) led to serious concerns. Given the cornerstone status of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, INTERPOL’s failure to offer greater protection to refugees placed it at odds with its commitment to international law.

Azer was recognised as a refugee in 2008, and has been in the Netherlands since then. He was forced to flee Azerbaijan after opposing the Aliyev regime. A number of his colleagues were arrested, and he and his family were threatened by security agents. It has taken until now, however, to get the Red Notice deleted, despite repeated requests from Azer’s lawyers.

This step forward, however, must be followed by further commitments to change from INTERPOL. Asylum under the 1951 Convention is only one aspect of the problems surrounding the organisation, and there are many more: guidance is needed on how INTERPOL approaches other forms of international protection and key human rights norms like the prohibition on torture, and improvements are needed to the Commission for the Control of Files (CCF), the body that targets of Red Notices can appeal to when they need to challenge an INTERPOL alert. This avenue has, to quote a member of the European Parliament, been ‘totally inadequate’ and its choice to meet for twelve days instead of six per year, while welcome, is not a revolution.

Fortunately, INTERPOL is currently in listening mode. It has convened a Working Group to study the question of information processing through its channels, at all levels, including before the CCF. Civil society organisations like Fair Trials and CMS have provided evidence to the group (which you can read about here), and INTERPOL will soon receive advice from both the new CCF Chair Ms Nina Vajic, a former European Court of Human Rights judge, and  the AS/Jur report of Mr Bernd Fabritius.

You can find out more about Azer’s case here, as as well as finding out more about our campaign. Alternatively, hear what Azer himself has said about the Red Notice system, below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhMMdhDpdbQ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQywg1w3RDQ You can watch more of our INTERPOL videos here.

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please telephone Fair Trials’ press department on 020 7822 2370 or 07950 849 851.

Watch our recent film, which shows exactly why INTERPOL needs reforming.

For regular updates follow Fair Trials on Twitter or sign up to our monthly bulletin at the bottom of the page.

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please call the media team on +44 (0) 7749 785 932 or email [email protected]

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