“New UK “crackdown” on Interpol arrest procedures endangers human rights” - Radha Stirling
Government to announce crackdown on foreign criminals as part of hardline new measures included in Queen’s Speech
It was announced today that the UK will implement a new policy regarding the arrest of individuals listed on the Interpol database with a Red Notice. In the proposed measure, police will be empowered to arrest anyone whose name is listed without first obtaining a domestic arrest warrant by a British magistrate. Expert Witness Radha Stirling, who has led calls for Interpol reforms, and who has founded a new organisation (IPEX) dedicated to improving Interpol and extradition procedures, commented on the new policy:
“At a time when Interpol is facing unprecedented scrutiny and criticism, it is both disappointing and alarming that the British government is taking a position which will allow police to arrest individuals on the sole basis of a Red Notice, without the oversight of a magistrate.
“Abuse of Interpol has been steadily increasing over the past 10 years, with authoritarian countries vindictively listing dissidents and opposition activists for political reasons.
Journalists, writers, and other public figures have been subjected to Red Notices, as well as influential business people whom such regimes wish to persecute. Gulf States have become habitual abusers of the Red Notice system to harass, intimidate, and extort individuals over private debt disputes and other civil matters that do not even fall within Interpol’s remit. The system is dangerously flawed, and lives have been ruined because of it.
“An Interpol Red Notice cannot safely be accepted as valid at face value; no one should be arrested on the basis of a Red Notice without the scrutiny of a judge and the issuance of a domestic arrest warrant. This is an extremely irresponsible policy that will undoubtedly lead to the wrongful arrest of innocent people. The UK must not abdicate its duty to review the facts behind a Red Notice and make an independent determination as to the necessity to make an arrest.
“We will be reaching out to the Home Secretary over this issue to urge the government to re-think their approach to Interpol. The UK must not cede judicial review to Interpol, arrest warrants should only be issued by British magistrates, according to British law, before anyone is subject to arrest. What is needed right now is greater oversight of Interpol, not less; stricter scrutiny of Red Notice procedures, not blind trust.
“Over the past year alone, I have dealt with dozens of Interpol abuse notices that have resulted in arbitrary arrests and human rights violations, many against British nationals. The Australian Federal Police are under immense pressure to reform their procedures after renowned footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi’s Interpol notice. Meanwhile, legislatures in Washington DC are considering reform protocols to further protect individuals, and Interpol itself to be made legally accountability. It would be negligent for Britain to ignore examples from our Western allies and erode what little protections we have.”