As we await the publication of the CCF’s annual report from last year, it is worth reviewing the speech given by the Commission’s Chairman,  Vitalie Pirlog, at INTERPOL’s 2017 annual meeting as a means of providing continuity in the analysis of the upcoming report.

Mr. Pirlog focused at that time on the changes brought about by the passage of the Statute of the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files, including new time limits for the CCF’s decisions, the change from a single chamber to a dual chamber,  and the challenges faced by the Commission in relation to its dealings with National Central Bureaus (“NCBs”).

While the Commission is now tasked with meeting deadlines for its decisions, it also relies on NCBs to respond quickly and succinctly to inquiries related to requests for removal. The speech indicates that while most NCBs respond in an appropriate fashion, some have not.

For example, Mr. Pirlog found it necessary to remind member countries that the organization’s asylum policy was meant to be utilized in accordance with  international law and the protections afforded to people with protected status.  This reminder came at a time when INTERPOL had already implemented its asylum policy, and was developing the policy under President Meng Hongwei, who sought to exclude Red Notice subjects from the policy’s protections if their countries considered them to be terrorists. The danger with this nuance, of course, was that protected persons could still be subject to persecution with INTERPOL’s assistance if the requesting countries improperly categorized them as terrorists.

In that situation, as with others faced by the Commission, the Commission is obliged to weigh individual rights and the need for legal protection against member countries’ expressed need for law enforcement.

It is reasonable to expect that the next CCF Annual report (which I understand will be released this month) would include an update on the NCBs’ collective response to Mr. Pirlog’s request for heightened recognition of legitimate protective status claims.

As always, questions and comments are welcomed.

 

A reader recently posed some questions about INTERPOL’s dissemination of information, and those questions are answered in today’s post.

Q: There has not been an annual report 2015 by Interpol so far – are there probably other sources that can tell numbers of red notices and diffusions issued in 2015 and numbers of valid notices/diffusions in circulation?

A:  The annual report for the previous year is normally published in conjunction with INTERPOL’s annual General Assembly, which is usually held in October or November.  The reports are published here.  Otherwise, the number of Red Notices or diffusions issued are not made public, because INTERPOL’s member countries do not always request that their notices be publicized.  In fact, a majority of them remain hidden from public view.

Q: Are ways to find out (by the numbers of notices/diffusions/arrested persons in annual reports) how many diffusions/red notices are deleted after Interpol indicated a political motive behind them?

A:  INTERPOL’s CCF has included this information in its annual reports (see below) in the past, and it also has recently begun providing more specific information in its responses to requests for Red Notice removal.  In the response letters, the individuals who applied for relief are now being informed more frequently of the reason for the removal of their notices.  However, the CCF’s recommendations (which are almost always adopted and implemented by the General Secretariat) are not made public, so this information is available largely on an anecdotal basis.

Q: Are there any hints of inner political problems in Interpol?

A:  INTERPOL is an international organization with over 190 member countries, each of which can claim varying levels of compliance with human rights standards, so some  political problems are inevitable.  The CCF, however, does a decent job of guarding itself from external influences, and its own annual reports often call the organization as a whole to task for the continual improvements that are needed to fulfill its obligation of remaining impartial in politically motivated cases, as well as other issues related to human rights protection. The annual reports are found here, and give insight to the issues that the CCF chooses to focus on from year to year.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

For the next several posts, the focus of this blog will be on the issues raised and discussed in the 2011 Annual Report by the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files (“CCF”), found here.  Every year, the CCF issues its report, focusing on INTERPOL’s accomplishments and challenges from the CCF’s vantage point.  This year, the 2011 report was presented on November 8 by the Chairman of the CCF to INTERPOL’s General Assembly, which took place in Rome, Italy.

The CCF does an admirable job of publicly highlighting the problems faced by INTERPOL and by its member countries, and credibly appears to take seriously its obligation of balancing law enforcement interests with individual human rights.

Among the challenges to be corrected, the CCF noted the rather pervasive problem of member countries’ National Central Bureaus (“NCB’s”) failing to advise INTERPOL when a Red Notice was no longer valid.  The CCF reported that, even when a Red Notice subject had been arrested and sentenced to a term of imprisonment, the Notice frequently remained live.

Experience showed that NCBs generally did not follow up such information and only rarely informed the General Secretariat that the person had served his or her sentence.

The effect of such failures by the NCBs is that people who have served their sentences and then travel abroad are still subject to detention in other INTERPOL member countries, although no charges are pending against them.
Based on that observation, the CCF advised INTERPOL to re-evaluate its policy regarding systemic retention of information for certain persons.  The CCF’s recommendation is a sensible one, both from an individual rights point of view and from INTERPOL’s vantage point.  Clearly, invalid data ought not to be maintained in a database designed to aid in detention and extradition.
 
Moreover, INTERPOL protects itself when it employs effective internal quality assurance mechanisms. INTERPOL has taken a more active and public role in protecting itself from external attacks resulting from the improper or erroneous activity by its member countries’ NCBs.  A change in the policy of systemic retention would place yet another obstacle between INTERPOL and its less vigilant member countries.
As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.