Defending theHuman Rightto a Fair Trial
July 24, 2014
24 July 2014
For immediate release
Fair Trials has today called on INTERPOL to remove its global “wanted person” alert (Red Notice) against the Belgian activist, Bahar Kimyongür, after a third EU country (Spain) refused to extradite him to Turkey, in a decision published this month. Bahar (a Belgian activist of Turkish descent, and father of two) has been deprived of his liberty for over six months across three different countries as a result of the Red Notice, which relates to allegations that he is a member of the DHKP/C (a Turkish group listed as a terrorist organisation by the EU).
The basis for the allegations include Bahar’s participation in a peaceful demonstration in the European Parliament in November 2000, recognised by a Dutch court as ‘a mere demonstration, in which [he] entered the room, chanted and demonstrated’ (you can watch the demonstration here); and his attendance at the public trial of a member of the DHKP/C. Courts in three different countries have now examined the allegations and concluded that they are groundless, highlighting Bahar’s pacificism and that the basis for the allegations relate to Bahar exercising his right to freedom of speech.
Bahar Kimyongür, said: “Violence has never been and will never be my means of expression. I was part of a peaceful protest in the European Parliament many years ago, and as a result my family and I live in fear of my arrest, detention and extradition whenever I travel because of the INTERPOL alert against my name.”
Fair Trials International’s Chief Executive, Jago Russell, said: “Countries across Europe have concluded that Bahar should not be extradited based on these charges, and yet Bahar still risks imprisonment and extradition every time he travels. How many more days will Bahar spend in prisons across Europe before INTERPOL finally removes him from their records?”
INTERPOL has been contacted by Fair Trials and by Bahar himself, highlighting the judgments from the Netherlands and Italy, and although the alert has been ‘blocked’ it has not been deleted. Blocking is an interim measure, and Fair Trials has seen in cases like Petr Silaev’s that ‘blocked’ alerts can be reinstated without warning. We have today written to provide the latest extradition refusal from Spain and to demand that the alert is removed.
Bahar’s case is one of many brought to Fair Trials´ attention where INTERPOL’s systems have been abused, including by Russia, Indonesia, Venezuela, Algeria and Sri Lanka. Fair Trials is calling for basic improvements to the way INTERPOL operates to weed out abuses and give people like Bahar access to an independent, fair and transparent process to challenge the use of INTERPOL’s systems.
For more information please contact Fair Trials International on +44 (0)20 7822 2370 or +44 (0)7950 849 851
This press release is available in English, Spanish, French, Dutch and Italian.
Notes to Editors
1. Fair Trials International is a human rights charity which works for effective defence of the right to a fair trial according to recognised international standards.
2. Bahar Kimyongür is a Belgian activist of Turkish descent, and a married father of two who campaigns throughout Europe on Turkish affairs. He has worked as a consultant for several NGOs, including the International Institute for Peace, Justice and Human Rights. He has been critical of the Turkish leadership in the past, and has reported on conditions for prisoners in Turkey.
3. The Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party–Front, (Turkish: Devrimci Halk Kurtuluş Partisi-Cephesi or DHKP/C) is a Marxist-Leninist party in Turkey. It was founded in 1978 as Revolutionary Left (Turkish: Devrimci Sol or Dev Sol), and was renamed in 1994 after factional infighting. It is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union. Bahar has consistently denied his membership of this organisation.
4. INTERPOL is the largest international policing organisation with 190 member countries and an annual budget of €70 million. One of its roles is to enable police forces across the globe to exchange information, including the distribution of information seeking the arrest of wanted people for the purposes of extradition. This is done through “Diffusions” and “Red Notices” and over 20,000 of these are issued each year and circulated across the globe. Each carries with it the potential to deprive people of their liberty and reputation. For more information on Red Notices and INTERPOL, click here.
5. Fair Trials International is campaigning for simple changes to help make INTERPOL a more effective crime fighting tool. Our report shows the extent of INTERPOL abuse and sets out clear and concise reforms to avoid the injustices we have seen in the past. Fair Trials International’s report draws on the organisation’s experience of representing individual beneficiaries subject to politically-motivated Red Notices. The report is designed to set out, as transparently as possible, Fair Trials’ understanding of INTERPOL’s operation, the evidence of the unjustified human rights impact, and to put forward simple recommendations which could help INTERPOL prevent this abuse in future. Read the report here.
6. Some of INTERPOL’s 190 member countries are known human rights abusers and notoriously corrupt, but INTERPOL has no effective mechanisms to prevent countries, or even individual prosecutors, abusing its systems. As a result, even though most Red Notices may be perfectly valid, abuses of INTERPOL are affecting human rights campaigners, journalists and businessmen. Cases include:
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Fair Trials Europe is a registered public foundation in Belgium (No. 552688677).
Fair Trials Europe was founded by Fair Trials International
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