Why does Interpol comply with Russia’s requests?

November 3, 2022

Last week, a well-known Crimean Tatar journalist Hulsum Khalilova was detained at the Istanbul airport after arriving from Croatia. As it became known, the detention was carried out according to a Russian request within the framework of Interpol.

Head of the Board of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center, head of the department of legal affairs and foreign affairs of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Eskender Bariiev noted that the Russian security forces and the lawyer by appointment deliberately did not inform Hulsum Khalilova about the criminal prosecution for specific purposes.

“I have the same situation, only we have different articles. I have article 280.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Hulsum, as a journalist, is being persecuted for covering the events of the blockade of Crimea, and she is accused of being directly related to the armed battalions. But the process itself is the same as mine: there was a decision of the so-called court of first instance, they themselves appointed a lawyer and did not warn, and then held a court of second instance, that is, they rejected the appeal of the lawyer by appointment. In fact, the state can provide lawyers, but the fact that it does not tell the client anything is a very big question. All this is being done purposefully so that we, having no information, going somewhere, could be arrested and extradited to Russia”,- he explained.

However, the main questions arise: why does Interpol comply with the requests of the Russian Federation and how to urge the world not to cooperate with a terrorist state?

According to Bariiev, Interpol is not a political organization, it is an international organization whose main task is to unite the efforts of the national law enforcement agencies of the participating countries in the fight against common crime. And accordingly, if a state that is a member of this international entity submits an application that one or another is wanted, then the central office of Interpol receives this message.

“We must understand that the international system for prosecuting criminals in criminal cases is multi-layered. There is Interpol, Europol, bilateral agreements, a system of cooperation within the CIS. And, for example, if information gets to Interpol and the central office removes a person, receiving information that he is being persecuted for political reasons, this does not mean that the person disappears from other systems of international communications”,- he added.

But what can be done?

According to the manager of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center Liudmyla Korotkykh, the CTRC has been cooperating with the Ukrainian National Central Bureau of Interpol for a long time so that the illegitimate attempts of the occupiers to persecute our citizens do not have any legal consequences at the international level.

“Within the framework of such cooperation, our task is, firstly, to prove that the article under which a person is being prosecuted is a constant and widespread instrument of political persecution by the Russian so-called law enforcement agencies. Secondly, since the Charter of the organization clearly states that cooperation takes place within the framework of the legislation of different countries and in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we appeal to the fact that Russia violates the norms of both its own national legislation, for example, the territorial principle of the operation of Russian legislation or the principle of citizenship , and the norms of international law, both the Declaration itself, already mentioned or humanitarian law, in particular Article 64 IV of the Geneva Convention, according to which the occupying country does not have the right to apply its own criminal legislation and create its own judicial bodies in the occupied territory”,- she explained .

The representative of the CTRC added that the organization has dozens of cases when the processing of information about the inhabitants of the Crimea, illegally persecuted by Russia, was stopped by the ICPO-Interpol institutions, sometimes even in relation to those persons who did not even know that they were on the international wanted list.

“By the way, in the case of Hulsum Khalilova, we received such a letter back in January 2020, but it guarantees exclusion from the registers only on the date of receipt of the request, most likely, Russia sent a second request for it. Or another mechanism was used within Interpol”,- said Liudmyla.

Speaking about the exclusion of Russia from the Interpol system, Bariiev noted that this is not an easy situation. The experts of the CTRC will study this issue: what needs to be done to exclude the Russian Federation from Interpol."

“Some states, carrying out political persecution of their citizens, abuse messages in Interpol. Such notifications are called red. Russia itself commits terrorist acts, misuses its legislation on the territory of the temporarily occupied Crimea and abuses red messages, for which it should be punished, but, on the other hand, we understand that we need a decision from international courts that the political elite of this country are criminals. We have to prove that the messages that Russia makes are more politically motivated. But Russia is a large country in terms of territory, it pays a fee, so I doubt that it will be possible to completely exclude it from Interpol”,- he explained.

Bariiev noted that international organizations are already trying to combat this. For example, Fair Trials International has proposed the creation of effective remedies for those wanted under the red notice on unfair charges; punish countries that frequently abuse the Interpol system; for greater transparency in the work of Interpol

The Peace Research Center also developed recommendations for Interpol, including removing red messages and mailings for people who have been granted refugee status under the 1951 Refugee Convention issued by their countries of origin, and establish an independent body to regularly review red messages.

Liudmyla Korotkykh confirmed that the Charter of the International Criminal Police Organization Interpol does not really have a provision on termination of membership. This issue has been raised several times at different levels, and everything comes to the conclusion that there should be the political will of 2/3 of the members of the organization to make appropriate changes to the Charter and legalize the procedure for excluding an Interpol member from its membership. In the meantime, given Russia's abuse of its rights as a member of Interpol, in March of this year it announced restrictions for Russia regarding the direct entry of information into the Interpol system. It was decided to verify such information and tightened control over the Moscow office in order to avoid possible abuse of Interpol channels.

“Despite this, the organization itself is rather cautious about the issue of excluding Russia from Interpol, since the point is that if it is excluded, it could be the largest country in the world, in which international criminals can hide without fear of being extradited by justice. Although the worst criminals of the 21st century are already hiding in Russia, our task is to make sure that this changes, and these criminals are justly punished for their crimes, and Interpol can play an important role here”,– concluded Liudmyla.