In what was a surprise outcome for many, South Korea’s Kim Jong-Yang was elected as the new president of INTERPOL last week, despite some people’s expectations that the position would be taken by Alexander Prokopchuk, a Russian general who had worked for many years with Russia’s interior ministry.
Mr Kim had been acting as president since his predecessor, Meng Hongwei – who was the first Chinese head of INTERPOL – disappeared around a month ago. Meng was last seen in France on September 29 and although his current whereabouts have not been confirmed, it has been suggested in the press that he is being investigated in China on bribery charges. Meng was appointed head of INTERPOL in 2016, and was due to serve in the post until 2020. He had 40 years of experience in criminal justice and policing in China. However, certain human rights groups expressed concern at his appointment at the time of his election, due to the possibility that it would allow China to pursue political dissidents who had left the country.
INTERPOL is an international enforcement agency comprising 194 member countries. Their work includes searches for missing and wanted persons. It is not a police force that physically arrests people, although it does issue “red notices” which are published on the system and circulated amongst the member countries. The red notice may then appear on any background checks conducted by banks and businesses, and once one is issued against a person, that person is likely to be stopped and searched in any of the member countries. Further information about INTERPOL Red Notices and also INTERPOL Diffusions can be found in Gherson’s guide here. Another important structural component at INTERPOL, aside from the President, is the General Secretariat, which is responsible for the day-to-day running of the organisation.
The recent changes in INTERPOL leadership drew attention from many political commentators and other observers. In particular, concerns were expressed with respect to the abuse of the red notice system in order to pursue political opponents of the relevant regime and were raised before the most recent election in respect of Alexander Prokopchuk. The UK Foreign Office and the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed their support for Kim Jong-Yang’s candidacy. Since the result, a spokesperson from the Kremlin accused western countries of “unprecedented interference” in the process of the INTERPOL presidential election. It is unknown whether these changes in the leadership of INTERPOL will have any impact on the political relationship between the UK and Russia.
Gherson has extensive experience of helping individuals at risk of extradition and who may be subject to INTERPOL Red Notices. The removal of an INTERPOL Red Notice is a complex and challenging process, and we have been successful in helping our clients with this. For further information see our website, or please contact a member of our team.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.