Misuse of state power 

States should not use criminal justice powers to oppress people, suppress political dissent or undermine our human rights. However, increasingly governments are engaged in the mass surveillance of populations, which violates many fundamental rights, including the rights to privacy and free speech, and the right to be presumed innocent. The use of technology in law enforcement is sometimes driven by the privatisation of criminal justice, where companies profit from technology that is used for government overreach.

Abuse of police power

Law enforcement authorities have legal powers to investigate and prosecute crimes but they must operate within the law and conform to international standards. Fair Trials campaigns to end the misuse of police power at any stage of criminal processes, from intrusive surveillance and unregulated searches and seizures to coercive interrogation and torture. Police interrogation should be carried out in compliance with adequate legal safeguards, in line with international human rights standards and best scientific practices, and should never use torture, isolations, threats, deceptions or other discredited practices. Read more about our work to promote the Mendez Principles.

International policing and judicial cooperation

Many states are using cross-border policing and extradition in ways that threatens people’s human rights. This includes extraditing people to countries where their human rights are at serious risk or extraditing them for minor offences where the human and financial cost of extradition is disproportionate. Many people who are extradited face long periods in pre-trial detention in countries where they may not speak the language or have any family support.

INTERPOL, the world’s largest international policing organisation aims to connect police forces across the globe to facilitate closer cross-border cooperation and data-sharing. However, its systems – particularly its international ‘wanted person’ alerts, known as Red Notices, and its less formal alerts, known as diffusions – are abused by countries around the world to persecute refugees, journalists and political opponents, at huge personal cost to these individuals. Fair Trials is campaigning for INTERPOL to take further action to prevent its systems being abused and to be more transparent about its work.

Originally intended as an instrument of cooperation in the fight against serious cross-border crimes, the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) is now disproportionately used for all types of offences, with negative impacts on people’s fundamental rights. We want urge EU states to use less restrictive alternative measures.

Watch Fair Trials' Bruno Min being interviewed about the abuse of INTERPOL Red Notices

AI and automated decision-making

States are increasingly using artificial intelligence and automated decision-making systems to profile people as at risk of committing a crime even if they have not done anything. These systems can reinforce pre-existing bias and discrimination, and undermine the presumption of innocence. Human decision-making is vital for fair, equal and just criminal justice systems. Fair Trials opposes the use of artificial intelligence to profile people as criminals.

Watch: How Fair Trials is challenging AI in criminal justice systems