Warning: cynics should skip this post. It is an unabashed professional letter of admiration. In my many years as a criminal defense attorney, I have encountered a few inspiring advocates who are wholly dedicated to their craft and their clients; this post is about some of them.
The world of INTERPOL is rather small. While the reach of the organization is global, the number of people who work with and are affected by INTERPOL is quite limited. The number of people and organizations who are involved with efforts to effect INTERPOL reform is even smaller. As a consequence, there are very few people who care about what happens to INTERPOL Red Notice subjects. Without champions, people affected by INTERPOL would be left without hope for reform where it is needed.
In the last decade, numerous non-governmental organizations and governments have either embarked on reform efforts or offered reform suggestions in the hope of convincing INTERPOL to modify various aspects of its law enforcement assistance methods. Most of the time, such efforts are aimed at increasing the organization’s support of individual privacy, due process, free speech, or political rights. I have been fortunate enough to both observe and participate in many of these efforts, along with a handful of talented and dedicated colleagues.
One of the involved parties, Fair Trials International, has emerged as a true champion working for INTERPOL reform. This organization has managed to balance zealous advocacy with credible diplomacy, resulting in an active and engaged dialogue between FT and INTERPOL. Late last month, FT met with INTERPOL’s Secretary General Jürgen Stock to discuss INTERPOL reform. The meeting follows a multitude of previous reform campaign highlights, including critical reports from 2013 and 2015 that prompted significant reforms, including increased transparency, improved communications, more thorough written decisions, and better response times on removal requests.
To its credit, INTERPOL has identified FT as an authoritative and experienced organization, and has wisely given its ear to FT in an effort to stay true to its mandate to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the rule of law in general. While it would be unrealistic to expect a that criminal defense attorney would always agree with INTERPOL’s decisions, this particular attorney has respect for INTERPOL’s willingness to ask, “Where can we improve?” and then really listen to the response that the relentless advocates at FT provided.
So to all those at Fair Trials: thank you for what you do. You may never know the impact of the work that you have done, or the depth of gratitude of the people who have benefited from it. Yours is work that matters.
As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.