INTERPOL is scheduled to open a new global complex in Singapore early this decade, and has already broken ground at the new site. The center is intended to complement the agency’s existing General Secretariat in Lyon, France, and is planned to go into full operation in late 2013 or early 2014. The focus of the complex is, naturally, to aid in fighting crime.
While INTERPOL already has other regional headquarters, the significance of this complex can hardly be overstated. Generally, it speaks to the worldwide shift in focus to the east. Specifically, it speaks to INTERPOL’s continued stepping away from its original European focus and towards an increasingly globally inclusive culture, which has regional bureaus in Africa, South and Central America, and Southeast Asia. The Global Complex will also house a 24-hour Command and Co-ordination Centre (CCC), the third to be created since Ronald Noble became Secretary General. The other two CCC’s are in Lyon, France and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Why Singapore now? The current president of INTERPOL is Khoo Boon Hui, of Singapore, who is serving a term until 2012. And according to a speech given by Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam, the Minister for Law and Home Affairs of the Republic of Singapore at the 79TH INTERPOL General Assembly, the Singapore Government accepted an invitation from INTEPROL’s General Secretariat to host the proposed INTERPOL Global Complex. After that invitation was extended in 2010, the Singapore Government set aside the necessary budget and land for the Global Complex. Singapore plans to construct a new and building, and provide it free of rental to house the INTERPOL Global Complex. The Qatari Government also contributed two million U.S. dollars towards the project.
So what does all of this have to do with Red Notices? Could be, nothing, and could be, everything. With the current president of Interpol being from Singapore and having the clear backing and support of the General Secretariat, it doesn’t require too large a logical leap to imagine that a lawyer’s challenge to a Singapore-issued Red Notice might meet with more resistance than one issued by another member country. This thought becomes a bit disturbing in light of the World Report 2011, issued by the Human Rights Watch. The report indicates that during the last year, Singapore’s government restricted freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly and frequently used defamation laws and detention to silence political critics and human rights defenders.
On the other hand, given its history and current position with INTERPOL, Singapore is also poised to lead by example and modify its police practices to address criminal activity rather than peaceful, civic activity. As with all things, time will tell which path Singapore takes.
As always, comments and thoughts are welcomed.