Rights groups protest INTERPOL abusers ahead of Istanbul summit

Sixty-four civil society organisations and individuals, including well-known human rights activists, called for steps to ensure members of the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) comply with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights before the group's general assembly in Istanbul next month.

The member states of INTERPOL are convening on Nov. 20-25 in Istanbul. Turkish Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu will address the world's leading police chiefs on fighting crime at the conference, the T24 news website reported.

NGOs and activists have called on their governments to push reforms for naming and shaming abusers of the INTERPOL system of red notices such as China, Russia, Belarus, Turkey and Kazakhstan. Red notices are used by member states to help extradite criminal suspects.

The meeting in Turkey should be the time to implement the reforms that international society has been demanding for a number of years, Yuriy Nemets, an attorney specialising in INTERPOL and extradition defence, wrote in an article for Ahval last week.

The reluctance of INTERPOL to issue red notice for alleged members of the Gülen movement, blamed by Turkey for a failed military coup in 2016, and Kurdish activists has caused a strain in relations between Ankara and INTERPOL headquarters. China has also sought to use its clout in the organisation to arrest dissidents.

Turkey has applied to INTERPOL to issue red notices for about 780 suspects who Turkey claims were complicit in the putsch of July 2016. But INTERPOL’s General Secretariat did not approve the applications in accordance with Article 3 of the Interpol Statutes, which state that “Interpol does not meddle in any kinds of military, political, racial and religious issues of the member countries”.

British newspaper the Guardian highlighted abuses of the INTERPOL system by Russia in an article last month, questioning whether the organisation had become the long arm of oppressive regimes. 

INTERPOL has 194 member countries and was established to ensure and promote the widest possible mutual assistance between all criminal police authorities.

Countries such as China, Turkey and Russia argue that INTERPOL should comply with their arrest requests, saying its subjective practices are preventing judicial proceedings against terrorists and other criminals.

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