US Congress passes act fighting political abuse of INTERPOL’s notice system

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The US Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), aka the Helsinki Commission, has announced on its website that the US Senate passed the Transnational Repression Accountability and Prevention (TRAP) provision, which aims to fight the political abuse of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), Turkish Minute reported.

The legislation, which was introduced in 2021 in the Senate by Helsinki Commission Ranking Member Sen. Roger Wicker and Chairman Sen. Ben Cardin and passed as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2022, counters the politically motivated abuse of INTERPOL Red Notices by such authoritarian countries as China, Russia and Turkey.

“Our provision will make it U.S. policy to fight exploitation of INTERPOL, including by naming and shaming member states that abuse its mechanisms. This amendment will protect the United States, our allies, and all those fighting or fleeing authoritarian regimes from extraterritorial and extrajudicial abuse,” Cardin said last week.

“We’ve seen time and again how corrupt dictators take advantage of INTERPOL to intimidate and harass those who expose their immoral deeds, even after they have fled their homes and their country in search of safety,” Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman Rep. Steve Cohen also said, adding that the provision would protect those dissidents and ensure that “our own institutions are not used against us — or them.”

According to a report by the Stockholm Center for Freedom, the Turkish government under President Erdoğan has used the International Notice System, such as Red Notices and diffusions, to target political opponents who have done nothing more than criticize the government.

Similarly, it has also abused INTERPOL’s Stolen and Lost Travel Documents Database by filing tens of thousands of notifications for critics and opponents who, in many instances, were not even aware that their passports had been invalidated.

The Turkish government has been critical of INTERPOL for refusing most of its requests based on Article 3 of the organization’s constitution, which stipulates that “It is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.”

Speaking to journalists about INTERPOL’s General Assembly, which was held in İstanbul November 23-25, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said the organization has been rejecting Turkey’s Red Notice requests since an abortive coup on July 15, 2016.

According to Soylu, since the coup attempt 982 of Turkey’s Red Notice requests were denied by the INTERPOL, compared to only 100 in the 20 years between 1996 and 2016.

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