This post is an updated version of the original, which was published in July of 2011.


How could INTERPOL shield itself from being used as a political weapon against a corrupt country’s own people? In a previous post, I referenced an article by CNN writer Libby Lewis entitled, “Are some countries abusing Interpol?” In the article, Lewis raises numerous questions, one of which is whether a more in-depth review process should occur prior to INTERPOL’s acceptance of Red Notice requests.

As it stands, INTERPOL relies on member countries to be aware of and observe the rules requiring that Red Notice requests be made legally, in compliance with the country’s own laws and INTERPOL’s rules. A Red Notice request is processed with a presumption of validity and remains so unless it is challenged specifically, or otherwise brought to INTERPOL’s attention as being improper.  This very frequently means that a Red Notice subject or his attorney must not only fight the underlying charges, but also seek the removal of the notice.

Senator Jeff Sessions from Alabama reportedly requested a revision of that process, and his is a good idea. For INTERPOL, however, the thought may be rather daunting. Imagine having to review the validity of thousands of Red Notice requests, particularly when they originate from 190 countries across the globe, all with differing legal systems and law enforcement practices. Where is one to start?

Here’s an idea. Start by amending INTERPOL’s rules and requiring the existence, funding, and operation of a small human rights monitoring division. Charge that division with the limited duty of studying and documenting corruption and human rights violation activity among INTERPOL’s member countries. When a member country with a questionable history requests a Red Notice from INTERPOL, require additional information and checks from the country to guard against improper requests being granted.

All member countries must contribute financially in order to be members of INTERPOL, and as discussed here before, INTERPOL occasionally benefits from other monetary contributions. Funding such a division is within easy reach. An amendment providing for a human rights monitoring division, with the accompanying appropriation of funding, would allow INTERPOL to do the one thing that would allow it to continue serving as a law enforcement aid while maintaining a sense of integrity: trust but verify.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.