(This is the third post in a series about the CCF’s 2012 Annual Report)

Each year, the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files (CCF) submits its annual report at the General Assembly meeting.  The report is normally presented by the the Chairman of the Commission in conjunction with his annual speech.

This year, Chairman Billy Hawkes offered several observations and proposals regarding the need to strengthen the Commission’s role in the organization.  While acknowledging that the vast majority of INTERPOL use is uncontroversial, portions of his speech were directed at the small percentage of cases were INTERPOL’s channels are abused.

 In addressing the inappropriate use of INTERPOL, particularly in the context of political issues, Chairman Hawkes stated, 

… it is for the Organisation as a whole to make clear that such behaviour is unacceptable.  The Commission can only play a limited role and is very alive to the accusation that it colludes with such behaviour by not adopting a more challenging approach in cases that come before it.

The fact that the Commission’s decisions on individual cases are formally only recommendations contributes to this negative perception.  Since the General Secretariat invariably accepts our recommendations, there is clearly a case for formalising this position.

Chairman Hawkes’s latter comment, and apparent proposal, both go to the fact that the CCF’s recommendations on individual cases are almost always accepted by the General Secretariat (only one case in 2012 was determined contrary to the CCF’s initial recommendation, and even in that case, the revised decision was based on new information provided to the CCF by the General Secretariat).

Despite that fact, it is also true that the CCF’s decisions are subject to being rejected in some circumstances by the General Secretariat, as well as being considered by the Executive Committee and even the General Assembly as a whole, which certainly creates ample room for accusations of partiality and politics in the decision making process.

So it appears that while the CCF enjoys autonomy in its decision making process as a matter of practice, the Chairman makes a case for making that autonomy more official.  If that were to happen in the truest sense, then the currently existing quasi-appellate function served by the General Assembly, although rarely invoked, would need to be replaced.  

The solution that comes to mind is a panel of experts specifically trained in INTERPOL’s rules and governing texts, educated as to the facts of the individual cases, and allowed to make informed findings as to both the CCF’s analysis and the alleged violations of the underlying case being challenged.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.