Russia’s requests for Red Notices have been the subject of significant media coverage in the last two years. Most recently, INTERPOL reportedly refused to issue a Red Notices for Ihor Kolomoisky, who is accused of masterminding murders, using prohibited methods and means of warfare, abduction, and other crimes linked to the armed conflict in the southeastern regions of Ukraine. He is also allegedly financing the Right Sector, a nationalist party in Ukraine.
Similarly, INTERPOL has refused to issue Russia’s Notice request for businessman William Browder, as discussed here. In both cases, INTERPOL’s refusal to issue the Notices was reportedly based on their political nature.
However, not every case with a political element is rejected by INTERPOL. Earlier this year, INTERPOL published a Red Notice in the name of Dimitriy Yarosh. Yarosh also supports the Right Sector, and the underlying charges for the Red Notice are directly related to his political goal of fighting against the Russian occupation of Ukraine. Russian authorities allege that he has committed “extremist” and “terrorist” actions in the course of his political activity.
So why does INTERPOL accept and publish one Red Notice that has political elements, but reject another? The reason is that Article 3 of INTERPOL’s constitution only prohibits the organization from becoming involved with matters that are predominantly political. Where an issue has a political component but is predominantly criminal, INTERPOL interprets the issue’s nature to be criminal, and not political for purposes of its involvment. INTERPOL specifically notes that, as criminal activity and legal matters continue to evolve, analysis of political issues evolves as well, particularly with respect to terrorism charges:
Notably, INTERPOL’s General Assembly concluded that the application of Article 3 does not necessarily prevent the Organization from providing support in the field of counter-terrorism.
It seems clear that accusations of terrorist actions will likely survive a political motivation analysis and will result in a Red Notice being issued when requested by an INTERPOL member country. Based on the decisions mentioned above, INTERPOL found Kolomoisky’s accusations, which involve violent acts, to be predominantly political. Yarosh’s accusations, on the other hand, which involve violence and terrorism, were found to be predominantly criminal.
Other crimes, such as financial crimes, are widely known to be the type that are most often used by controlling governmental authorities to discourage opposition and are more likely to be recognized as predominantly politically motivated by INTERPOL.
In the next post, I’ll talk about the relationship between INTERPOL’s determination that a case is politically motivated and an extradition court’s determination of the same issue.
As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.