Interpol can’t do much more to stop abuse of ‘red notices’, chief says

By Francois Murphy

VIENNA (Reuters) – Interpol has come a long way in preventing abuse by Russia and others of its “red notice” system where a country asks others to arrest a suspect, and cannot do much more for now to improve it, the agency’s head said on Tuesday.

Rights groups, legal experts and others have long said countries like Russia and China abuse the red notice system by using it to get political critics arrested abroad.

Over the years Interpol, the global police coordination body with 195 member states, has increased checks to prevent abusive red notices, and it now screens all requests for a red notice before issuing them. More than 10,000 are issued a year.

“If I got good advice for example from NGOs (on) what else I can do, I would implement that,” Interpol Secretary General Juergen Stock told Reuters in an interview on the margins of his organisation’s annual General Assembly, which is being held in Vienna this year.

Stock, who is German, has another year in his mandate after nine years in the post.

“We have a small percentage, maybe 2%, 3% of tricky notices. The overwhelming majority concerns murderers, rapists, drug smugglers and what have you,” he said.

“Have we made one or the other mistakes perhaps where we had to correct a decision? Yes. I’m not saying it’s perfect but I’m saying it’s very robust,” he said.

Stock avoided naming and shaming individual countries but said Russia is the worst offender. Rights groups have long accused Moscow of filing by far the largest number of abusive requests.

Moscow says it follows due legal process and depicts many prominent critics such as jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny as criminals.

“Of course we see geopolitical tensions are rising. Of course we know there is no international definition of terrorism. That is not going away,” Stock said, adding that Interpol has increased the number of languages in which it can monitor the “global situation”.

“Maybe AI (artificial intelligence) will help in the future. We are now also working on implementing AI solutions that are helping us in that monitoring. So the process is continuing but the major cornerstones are established,” he said.

(Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Frances Kerry)