Egypt’s Red Notice requests for Muslim Brotherhood members- a continuation of Egypt’s past INTERPOL abuses?
As discussed in the first two posts in this series, here and here, members of the banned group the Muslim Brotherhood are being targeted by Egypt’s government using INTERPOL’s Red Notice system. The current government tactics appear to be a continuation of its past actions: Egyptian officials previously arrested tens of thousands of people affiliated with the group in and accused them of cooperating with a terrorist organization.
Egypt’s use of INTERPOL to attempt to re-capture exiled dissidents
According to the Middle East Eye, since Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the current Egyptian president, seized power in a military coup in 2013, a series of cases show Egyptian attempts to extradite exiled dissidents using Interpol’s Red Notice and diffusion alert systems.
The fate of dissidents who stand trial in Egypt
Human rights violations under the current regime in Egypt give cause for concern about the fate of dissidents who are returned to the country to face politically motivated charges. Several years ago, the criminal court in Minya, Egypt sentenced 529 people to death, possibly the largest mass death sentence in recent years anywhere, in a trial lacking basic due process protections. The main trial took under an hour, with the prosecution refusing to give individual trials and the court preventing defense lawyers from calling witnesses or presenting their case. Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch commented, “The Minya court failed to carry out its most fundamental duty to assess the individual guilt of each defendant, violating the most basic fair trial right. These death sentences should be immediately quashed.” Hossam Abdel-Fattah, a urologist based in Qatar was one of the people sentenced. Following his sentence he was imprisoned for two months and forced to remain in India for two years while the case against his extradition was fought.
In yet another case, Elsayed Elezaby, a former engineer, told Middle Eastern Eye that soon after Sisi came to power he was informed of false terrorism charges made against him. He was held for six months in Albania and over a year in Ukraine due to a Red Notice in addition to facing up to 25 years in prison if he returned to Egypt. He went on to say “Interpol should not be supporting Egypt’s terrorist regime. They have to separate the political from the criminal.”
The danger of INTERPOL’s invovlement with Muslim Brotherhood cases
INTERPOL’s data circulation system does not and cannot possibly detect every politically motivated Red Notice request. Some Red Notices that are invalid do slip through the organization’s screening process, which means that true dissidents can easily become Red Notice subjects. They are often unaware of their status until they attempt to travel and are either turned away, or worse, detained, due to the Red Notice.
This late notice places the Red Notice subjects at a decided disadvantage, should they choose to seek the removal of the notices. Those who dispute an abusive Red Notices or diffusions do not have the right to a hearing prior to its issuance to examine evidence that governments produce against them. This fact can allow ill-intentioned INTERPOL member countries to weaponize INTERPOL for its own political purposes, and to do so effectively if the invalid notice is not detected prior to a subject’s detention.
As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.