INTERPOL announces new asylum policy at Council of Europe meeting
On 19 May 2015 INTERPOL announced a new policy relating to recognised refugees, responding to calls for reform led by charitable organisations such as Fair Trials.
It has long been a concern that certain countries have misused the INTERPOL system as a mechanism to persecute political opponents and target enemies of the regime. Gherson has first hand experience helping numerous individuals who have been forced to flee groundless and politically motivated criminal allegations. In addition to sending extradition requests directly to the country of refuge it is increasingly common for the persecuting state to place individuals' details onto the INTERPOL system in the form of a Red Notice.
These Red Notices can remain on the INTERPOL system even after an individual defeat an extradition request making international travel extremely dangerous. Shockingly, these Red Notices can often remain on the INTERPOL system even after an individual is granted refugee status from the persecuting state.
Pressure has been building for reform since the publication of Fair Trials' 2013 report "Strengthening INTERPOL". Gherson contributed to this report and are credited within it.
The present situation often leaves those subject to persecutory politically motivated allegations in perpetual limbo. Despite having being recognised as a refugee and therefore being protected from extradition in the asylum-granting state they remain at risk of arrest internationally. Furthermore, the act of placing an individual onto the INTERPOL Red Notice list can have profound implications for an individual both personally and commercially, as many business and banks will refuse to deal with individuals who are unlucky enough to find themselves on the list.
Currently recognised refugees who are subject to a Red Notice have been forced to write to INTERPOL to request that an 'addendum' is added to their file - effectively a note which confirms that grant of asylum whilst maintaining the Red Notice on the system.
We have yet to see written confirmation of the new policy but it now appears that INTERPOL are proposing on going much further. We understand that, in the future, INTERPOL will actually remove a Red Notice if it can verify that the person has been recognised as refugee under the 1951 Refugee Convention. It does not matter whether the criminal prosecution in question was the ground for the asylum or not; the grant of asylum suffices. INTERPOL say that they will not reveal to the country behind the Red Notice which country granted asylum, to address confidentiality concerns. However, plainly in certain high-profile cases this apparent protection is of little use given the fact that the country in question will almost certainly know where an individual is. It is anticipated that INTERPOL will require written confirmation of the grant of asylum and of course that the state behind the Red Notice will have an opportunity to make representations of its own.
Gherson waits with interest to see confirmation of the new policy and to see how it is enforced in practice. We would welcome any move to strengthen the rights and protections afforded to recognised refugees but believe that more must be done to prevent the continued repeated misuse of the INTERPOL system by certain states.
Gherson has extensive experience in dealing with and defeating politically motivated extradition requests in the UK and worldwide. Furthermore, Gherson's experience in securing refugee status in high profile cases and in managing the continuing after effects of an extradition request including dealing with INTERPOL is unparalleled. Should you wish to have a confidential discussion with a member of our team please do not hesitate to contact us.
3 June 2015