The Russian Federation is one of INTERPOL’s 190 member countries, which means that it has the privilege of using INTERPOL’s databases to help it track down wanted suspects and convicts for prosecution and sentencing. Along with that privilege comes the obligation to follow INTERPOL’s rules, not the least of which are the requirements that every member country abide by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and uphold their own due process laws. Additionally, member countries must not use INTERPOL’s channels to pursue politically motivated or corruptly filed criminal charges. When countries violate their obligation to uphold these tenets, INTERPOL’s rules specifically provide that those countries can be sanctioned in a variety of ways.
While INTERPOL has refused to issue certain Red Notice requests as made by the Russian government, anecdotal evidence shows that its quasi-appellate body, the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files (CCF), is still accepting representations by the Russian government that it is in compliance with its above-stated obligations. A recent decision by the CCF contained the statement that Russian authorities had provided “satisfactory elements regarding compliance with … the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
Honestly, this kind of statement is stunning, given the international recognition and condemnation of the ongoing and endemic violations of human rights in Russia. In addition to the increasing drum beat of criticism of Russia’s human rights record, now another NGO has issued a statement, yet again affirming the truly horrific human rights violations still occurring in Russia.
The Open Dialog Foundation released a statement on May 9 regarding the involvement of Russian officials in the ‘Magnitsky list’ who are also involved in other politically motivated criminal proceedings in Russia. Open Dialog advocacy officer Thomasz Klosowicz presented information on other politically motivated criminal prosecutions and connected these cases to officials who were also connected to the Sergei Magnitsky case. The Red Notice Law Journal has previously addressed the Magnitsky case here and here.
In its statement, Open Dialog addressed the cases of Nadiya Savchenko, a former Ukrainian pilot and politician convicted for the murder of Russian journalists; the protestors of Bolotnaya Square and Manezhnaya Square, prosecuted for being members of opposition movements and organizations; the leaders of Yukos, accused of fraud and tax evasion; and Mukhtar Ablyazov, a opposition politician and businessman accused of embezzling funds. The purpose of the statement is to demonstrate how corruption and oppression in Russia has led to the abuse and exploitation of both its citizens and foreign nationals, and to serve as a call to action to raise awareness and prevent the unjust treatment and prosecution of these individuals. The Open Dialog Foundation says that it aims to identify that corruption in Russia is systemic and in direct violation of human rights laws.
As Russia’s human rights abuses continue to grow, the question must be asked, at what point does INTERPOL apply the sanctions available to it since its rules were changed in 2012, and hold Russia consistently accountable for its abuse of INTERPOL’s systems?
As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.
*(RNLJ thanks journalism student Elayza Gonzalez for her contribution to this post.)