16 Mar 2017, 05 mins ago

The news of Meng Hongwei’s election as President of INTERPOL has been greeted with concern from human rights organisations. For the past 12 years Meng has served as China’s vice minister for public security. He is also a former deputy director of China’s controversial paramilitary police force.

Meng was elected by delegates at INTERPOL’s 85th General Assembly which concluded yesterday in Indonesia. In his speech to the General Assembly, Meng stated:

“We currently face some of most serious global public security challenges since World War Two. Terrorism is spreading; Cybercrime is arising; Telecoms fraud is escalating; All kinds of traditional and non-traditional transnational crimes are rising.

It is the hope and expectation of the 7 billion peace-loving inhabitants of our world that INTERPOL should more effectively promote police cooperation to deliver a decisive blow to this wave of criminality and help build a peaceful and law-abiding world.

INTERPOL, guided by the best set of principles and mechanisms to date, as well as the INTERPOL 2020, has made a significant contribution to promoting international policing cooperation.

INTERPOL should continue to adhere to these principles and strategies, while further innovating our work mechanisms, in order to adapt to the changing security situation we see today.

INTERPOL should put more emphasis on tackling prominent criminal issues; enhancing the policing capacity of countries with relatively weak law enforcement capabilities; and safeguarding the authority of the rule of law. In doing so, INTERPOL will be able to establish itself as stronger platform for global policing cooperation.”

Meng went on to describe himself as, “a veteran policeman… ready to do everything… towards the cause of policing in the world.”

Nicholas Bequelin, the East Asia Director at Amnesty International, reacted to the appointment with concern:

“This is extraordinarily worrying given China’s longstanding practice of trying to use Interpol to arrest dissidents and refugees abroad…

The Chinese police have a terrible human rights record, including the endemic practice of coercing ‘confessions’ and the widespread use of torture.”

Domestically, the appointment will doubtless be viewed as a boost to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s seemingly relentless crackdown on corruption. China issued over 100 INTERPOL Red Notices last year alone and continues its efforts to repatriate fugitives from many countries around the world. This week it was reported that two Chinese businesswomen were to be extradited from France to China to face graft allegations.

China has been pushing for increased international cooperation in its campaign to track down and repatriate corrupt officials and other citizens who moved assets overseas. Western countries besides France have so far proved reluctant to sign extradition treaties with China due to concerns over the country’s human rights record and justice system. However in September Canada announced that it was in talks to enter into formal extradition arrangements with China.

Gherson has extensive experience in representing individuals facing extradition in many countries around the world and in assisting individuals who find themselves targeted by INTERPOL Red Notices. For more information don’t hesitate to contact a member of our team.