InterpolThe Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe recently published a draft resolution titled, Abusive use of the Interpol System: the need for more stringent legal safeguards.

It cites the Red Notice issued on Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Founder, Captain Paul Watson by Interpol at the request of Costa Rica among the examples of a broken Red Notice system that has been “abused by some member States in the pursuit of political objectives, repressing the freedom of expression or persecuting members of the political opposition beyond their borders.”

The report states the purpose for the International Notice System is to enable police to alert law enforcement in other countries of potential threats, or to ask for assistance in solving crimes.

However, it goes on to explain how several non-governmental organizations documented numerous cases of suspected abuse by Interpol, “including the persecution of human rights activists, political opponents and journalists.” These examples were presented to the committee.

In regard to Captain Watson, the report stated the following:

Captain Paul Watson, a Canadian environmental activist, was arrested in Frankfurt on the basis of a Red Notice requested by Costa Rica ten years after an incident in 2002, when his ship “Sea Shepard” (sic) intervened against a poaching (shark-finning) Costa Rican fishing boat in Guatemalan waters at the request of the Guatemalan government. Shortly after the incident, he was acquitted by a Costa Rican court of charges first of attempted murder, then of assault (against the Costa Rican fishermen). The Costa Rican court was clearly convinced of Mr. Watson’s innocence by the extensive film footage of the incident, which was later shown in the documentary film Sharkwater.” But according to his lawyer, Captain Watson is still, or again, subject to a Red Notice, based on the same facts.

The report calls for certain measures to be put in to place that can identify weaknesses in the system, along with ways to prevent or redress the abuses. It also calls for the creation of a compensation fund for those victims of unjustified Red Notices.

“The preliminary draft resolution includes a number of constructive proposals and recommendations designed to promote our common goal to further strengthen INTERPOL as a key tool in the fight against international crime, including terrorism,” the report said.  “Those who abuse INTERPOL’s infrastructures for the persecution of their adversaries undermine the very foundations of international police cooperation.”

The draft resolution was adopted unanimously by the committee on March 7, 2017.

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