On Thursday, September 22, Soteria International attended the Open Dialogue Foundation's Side Event at the annual OSCE-HDIM 2016 on the reform in INTERPOL and the rights of victims of politically motivated extradition requests.
The panel discussed the collaboration between countries, in the OSCE region, that do not adhere to human rights standards, in order to apply politically motivated, and false, criminal accusation of individuals.
Cases, such as those of the Nadiya Savchenko, Yuriy Soloshenko, and Gennadiy Afanasiev, who were all Ukranian nationals held in Russia for politically motivated reasons.
Another issue is that of refugee’s appearing on INTERPOL’s ‘Red Notice’ list, a list of international arrest warrants. This is possible due to an incompatibility found in between International Law and the Geneva Convention for Refugees.
This means that, in fact, an individual may be granted asylum, while appearing on INTERPOL’s list of fugitives. Therefore, a state which has signed the Geneva Convention, is both, prohibited to force a refugee, or asylum seeker, to return to the country in which they are persecuted according to the convention, as well as, required to extradite an individual back to the country of persecution. This discrepancy leads to open interpretation, as to which of the laws to respect.
In response to advocacy made by Civil Society, among which the Open Dialogue Foundation, on reform of this policy, in 2015 INTERPOL began to refuse the processing of 'Red Notices’ issued for individuals protected with refugee status. However, in order for an individual to be removed from the ‘Red Notice’ list, that individual had to apply for removal of his/her name from the list.
The civil society, therefore, emphasized the necessity of rendering the reforms fully operative, with two recommendations.
Firstly, agreement upon systemic change within the central and national INTERPOL bodies, as well as, within the organizations of other international stakeholders. The downfall of a lack of coordination is exemplified by the fact that a refugee may remain on a fugitive list even after a court has granted him/her acquittal or pardon from the crime he/she is accused of. This is due to the fact that sovereign states are explicitly attempting to extradite refugees despite the international recognition of their persecution.
Secondly, the recommendation that INTERPOL must, on a current basis, remain up-to-date with regards to the evolving developments in systematic human rights violations.
The Open Dialogue Foundation called for INTERPOL, UNHCR, national law-enforcement and justice systems to anticipate and combat the abuse of INTERPOL by nation states.
Soteria International raised the issue, as to whether or not the European Union and EUROPOL was also considering adopting the same policy as INTERPOL, to prohibit the name of a refugee to simultaneously be posted on the list of fugitives. This inconsistency, of an individual with refugee status appearing on the EUROPOL’s most wanted list, is the case with Mr. Gregorian Bivolaru of Romania. This individual was granted refugee status by one EU member state, Sweden, yet was placed on EUROPOL’s fugitive list by another EU member state, Romania. Mr. Bivolaru was, at no point, a fugitive, for he had disclosed his whereabouts to the authorities. However, due to the fact that he appeared on EUROPOLs Most Wanted Fugitives list, while travelling in France, Mr. Bivolaru was taken in to custody by the French police, held in prison, and eventually extradited to Romania. Due to the contradictory nature of observing the same individual on two opposing lists, and the serious consequences for the individual whose life is at stake, the EU must also reach a consensus on systemic change in order to avoid human suffering due to inconsistencies in the system.