The Turkish government’s blatant abuse of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) to persecute, harass and intimidate critics and opponents is much worse than one can imagine, a new research by Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF), an advocacy group that tracks rights violations in Turkey, has revealed.
The dubious and false charges filed by Turkey through Interpol to hunt down legitimate critics of Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have in some cases succeeded in extraditing people from abroad, subjecting returnees to torture and ill treatment in notorious Turkish prisons. In other cases, people were stranded in third countries while travelling and were forced to fight the forcible return as they remained in detention facilities.
Turkish government also revoked travel documents and passports of many Turks without informing them and filed missing and lost reports with Interpol on their behalf when in fact no such request was made by passport holders. Erdoğan has also pursued his witch-hunt persecution against foreign companies that made a trade with almost 1,000 Turkish companies that were unlawfully seized and nationalized by the government on fabricated terrorism charges. Interpol mechanisms were used to gather information on foreign partners on absurd charges of terrorism which sparked a diplomatic crisis with other countries.
“The cases we have documented so far represent only the tip of the iceberg and show a deliberate, systematic and aggressive pattern in these abuses. Real storm has not hit the Interpol yet,” Abdullah Bozkurt, the President of SCF, has said.
“Considering the fact over 150,000 people faced legal actions in the last year alone and over 50,000 were formally arrested on alleged links to the Gülen movement with many had to flee the country to escape massive persecution, we’ll see a serious escalation of abuses of Interpol notices by Turkey as the politically motivated criminal cases move forward,” he added.
SCF report warns that Interpol, set up for cooperation among member states’ law enforcement agencies to arrest and extradite criminals and terrorists, is being undermined by the Turkish government, which is dealing a lethal blow to its integrity and credibility of the system.
The report calls for vigilance and better screening by Interpol on notices and urges further reform on filtering mechanisms. It joins recommendations made by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the European Parliament on how to improve Interpol mechanisms and halt politically motivated notices and diffusions that violate Interpol’s own Constitution.