Interpol scrutinising 40,000 wanted notices for political abuse

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 December, 2017, 3:02pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 December, 2017, 8:36pm

Interpol is examining tens of thousands of wanted person notices submitted by member countries to determine whether they are politically motivated, according to a confidential memo obtained on Friday by Associated Press.

Several recent cases, including the detention of a Turkish-German writer in Spain at Turkey’s behest, have raised concerns about possible misuse of “Red Notices” that the international police agency distributes on behalf of its members to further arrests of fugitives.

The confidential memo compiled by European security officials detailed a November 20 meeting between European Union diplomats and Interpol representatives, who said they were examining up to 40,000 Red Notices.

The memo quotes representatives from the law enforcement agency based in France saying the review would take “some time” and welcoming support from member states.

Interpol declined to confirm the number of wanted person notices under review, but said in a statement that new procedures were put in place last year to prevent the communiqués from being issued to persecute dissidents.

The agency said the new measures included the creation of a task force charged with examining whether wanted person alerts should be maintained or cancelled.

People who think they were improperly targeted can contact Interpol and request a review, and all Red Notices are re-examined every five years, the agency said.

In addition, governments can tell Interpol whether they grant someone status as a refugee or asylum seeker, in which case any outstanding Red Notices from the country the person fled would be cancelled, the agency said.

Andrej Hunko, a German lawmaker, said current mechanisms designed to ensure Interpol’s alerts are not misused in the name of politics were not sufficient.

“The whole system needs to be re-examined,” he said.

Hunko, a member of Germany’s opposition Left party, cited the case of Turkish author Dogan Akhanli as an example of the need for independent oversight of Interpol’s database. Akhanli was arrested in August while on holiday in Spain because of a warrant from a 1984 armed robbery in Turkey.

Akhanli, who has in the past written about the mass killing of Armenians in Turkey in 1915, said the accusations were politically motivated. He was released within days of his arrest after German officials intervened in the case.