Radha Stirling, British barristers & human rights groups call for Interpol safeguards
Radha Stirling, British barristers & human rights groups call for Interpol safeguards to protect refugees like Hakeem Alaraibi
For over a decade, Radha Stirling, founder and CEO of Detained in Dubai, has been a leading voice against Interpol abuse. She has successfully lobbied Australian Parliament to include human rights provisions in their extradition treaty with the UAE, appeared for the defence as an expert witness in several high profile extradition cases and has worked tirelessly to remove wrongfully listed clients from Interpol’s database. She has led the call for greater Interpol transparency and reforms to end abuse by an emerging “authoritarian nexus” which misuses the Interpol Red Notice system to circumvent due process. Radha has initiated a demand that Interpol implement practical measures to ensure the protection of refugees from politically motivated malicious extradition requests, including the establishment of data sharing agreements with the UNHCR and national governments so that individuals who have been granted asylum will not be put at risk of extradition to the countries from which they have fled. Her proposal is currently supported by prominent barristers in the United Kingdom, human rights organisations, and activists.
Radha has written to Interpol (attached PDF) and issued the following statement:
Over the past few years there have been dozens of cases of refugees subjected to Interpol Red Notices by the countries from which they have fled. Interpol has been frequently used by authoritarian governments to persecute political dissidents who have been granted asylum in other countries; creating a sort of collaborative global jurisdiction for dictatorships to pursue critics and those who have escaped their repression.
In response to pressure from human rights organisations, Interpol announced that they would no longer issue Red Notices against refugees on behalf of the countries they have fled. However, this policy lacks any real mechanisms for implementation, as we have unfortunately seen very clearly in the case of Hakeem Alaraibi. Interpol has not established any agreements with the UNHCR, nor with individual national governments to enable data sharing on refugees and those granted political asylum. Thus, Interpol may say that they will not issue Red Notices against refugees, but they have no way of knowing who is a refugee. This means that, like in Hakeem’s case, a Red Notice will be issued regardless, and can only be cancelled after a person’s asylum status has been confirmed; and by then it is too late.
We are therefore calling upon Interpol to immediately implement measures to vet Red Notice requests against available data on refugees and recipients of asylum worldwide to ensure that the Interpol database cannot be misused as a tool of political persecution and authoritarian vendettas. Without such a mechanism for data sharing, Interpol’s stated policy of protecting refugees against malicious Red Notices has no practical substance and protects no one.
Stirling’s calls are supported by:
David Miller, Director of Spinwatch - Public Interest Investigations
Ben Cooper, Extradition Barrister at Doughty Street Chambers
Toby Cadman - International law specialist in war crimes, human rights, terrorism & extradition
Craig Foster, Australian Multicultural Council Amnesty HR refugee ambassador & sports analyst for SBS
ICFUAE, International Campaign for Freedom in the United Arab Emirates
Oussama El Omari - former CEO of RAKFTZA
Raja Khadry - Chief Economist for the Government of Montserrat
Pancho Campo, CEO of Chrand Marketing & Events & former Olympic Tennis player
ADHRB - Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain
Maryam Al-Khawaja, Human Rights Advocate & board member of, ICHRGlobal & UrgentAct