INTERPOL has received improper requests for Red Notices from Russia in the past, and all current indicators point to a worsening of the situation rather than an improvement.
Russia is an INTERPOL member country and is currently ranked 28 on Transparency International’s corruption index. A score of 28 means that Transparency International has determined that Russia is close to the “highly corrupt” end of the corruption scale, and is more corrupt than 126 other evaluated countries. NGO Freedom House rated Russia’s political rights at a 6 out of 7 (a 7 is the worst on the scale). Amnesty International has found that,
Despite ongoing attempts to improve the efficiency and independence of the judiciary, alleged political interference, corruption and the collusion of judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officials continued to result in frequent reports of unfair trials.
Individuals are not the only victims of corruption in Russia. Companies are also frequently targeted by Russian officials. Jens Berthelsen, an anti-corruption specialist who prepares companies for doing business in Russia, was quoted in CNBC’s “Is Russia Too Corrupt for International Business” about the plight of business entities in Russia:
Companies often face extortion or have court cases brought against them.
Based on the deeply entrenched corruption in Russia’s court and political systems, it would seem that the country would be a great candidate for INTERPOL’s list of problem members. INTERPOL has recognized in the past that certain of its member countries were abusive (my word) of INTERPOL’s tools. For example, INTERPOL’s Secretary General visited Venezuela in 2011 and the organization engaged in significant efforts to open “direct channels of communication between Venezuela’s Fiscalia and INTERPOL’s Office of Legal Affairs” (INTERPOL’s words). Following INTERPOL’s recognition of certain member countries’ abusive INTERPOL activity, it has appeared from the practicioner’s perspective that INTERPOL has viewed Red Notices from those countries with a more skeptical eye than before.
And that may already be the case with Russia. In terms of high-profile cases, INTERPOL has refused to issue Red Notice requests where issuing the Notices would violate its rules. Where the cases are less publicized, however, we should expect that INTERPOL will review the Notices only upon the request of the Red Notice subjects and/or their attorneys.
In the next post, I’ll address the issue of Russia’s “two parallel court systems” for run-of-the-mill cases and cases with litigants having extreme power differentials.
As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.