Russia’s Abuse of Interpol

By David Satter

Despite Interpol’s commitment to neutrality and human rights, Russia’s Abuse of Interpol shows the extent to which the Kremlin cynically subverts the purpose of the international police cooperation body by using it as a tool to targetpersecute businessmen and businesswomen, journalists, lawyers, and political activists.

Highlighting a number of cases wherein individuals have been arrested, detained, or fear arrest and detention, including in the UK, this report shows how Russia has disseminated politically-motivated Red Notices to police forces in over 190 countries. Interpol does not have the mechanism in place to prevent this abuse, and this has severe implications for the individuals concerned: reputational damage; travel restrictions; and, possible extradition. Endemic corruption in Russia’s judiciary and rampant human-rights abuses in the country’s prisons mean that anybody extradited to Russia will not have the rights which are enshrined in international law.

The report concludes it is essential that Interpol defend its own integrity, and continue with its essential crime-fighting activities, by undertaking reforms in order to combat its abuse, by Russia and other countries, for politically-motivated purposes. States found to be abusing the system must face sanctions – up to and including potential exclusion – to prevent further manipulation.

David Satter, Associate Fellow of the Russia Studies Centre at HJS and author of the report, commented: 

“For many years, Russia has enjoyed the benefits of being a member of the civilised world while engaging in internal practices that are far from civilised.

“One benefit has been the ability to order Red Notices against political opponents or persons who the authorities want to harass.

“Russia’s easy access to Red Notices should come to an end. By making our reactions reflect Russia’s practices, we may hasten the day when Russia really does merit international trust and cooperation.” 

Russia’s Abuse of Interpol is available to download here.


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