Misuse of warrants: Interpol wants to clean up

Despite an explicit ban, many countries use Interpol arrest warrants to pursue their opposition. The police organisation therefore wants to examine tens of thousands of alerts issued between 2014 and 2016 more closely. The main focus is on possible asylum seekers.

Article 3 of Interpol’s statutes prohibits any „any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character“. The international warrants for arrest (the so-called „Red Notices“) must not undermine this policy. However, some states have used the Interpol arrest warrants to prosecute government opponents. A special „Notices and Diffusion Task Force“ to deal with this has recently started work. It now consists of seven members from Germany, Slovakia, Croatia, Sweden and Ukraine, according to a EU document now published by the British organisation Statewatch.

More than 200,000 people are currently stored in the „Red Notices“ file; since 2014 their number has risen by 30 percent. The investigation of this stock of wanted persons concerns 80,000 arrest warrants issued before 2016. The „Coloured Notices“ in blue (request for the location of the people concerned) or green („warnings“), which could also be used by states for political persecution, are not subsequently checked.

The review is based on a decision of the Interpol Secretariat of 2014. At that time, the Member States were asked to indicate in future if a person wanted by „Red Notice“ had applied for asylum in another country or if the application had even been positively decided. These arrest warrants should then be examined in particular. The Interpol General Assembly confirmed this procedure in a resolution two years ago. Now the Member States are reminded of the implementation.

The General Secretariat had informed the Central Offices since 2014 of the withdrawal of 130 searches for an Article 3 violation. For those concerned, this does not always mean the all-clear. For example, the German Federal Government decided not to segregate five requests despite serious suspicion, but to continue them as national arrest warrants. The Federal Office of Justice and the Federal Foreign Office are responsible.

Image: Standing at attention at the Interpol General Assembly in 2017 (all rights reserved Interpol).

Autor: Matthias Monroy

Knowledge worker, activist, editor of the German civil rights journal Bürgerrechte & Polizei/CILIP.