Click here for a copy of this statement in Arabic.
INTERPOL’s Commission for the Control of Files (CCF) recently deleted a Red Notice issued against a Bahraini activist (who will remain nameless to preserve the confidentiality of the INTERPOL process and to protect identity), following a request for removal by Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB). This is the first ADHRB request on a Bahraini individual that has been fully adjudicated by INTERPOL.
ADHRB first started its INTERPOL program in May 2016, and has worked on only a handful of cases, including one successful removal for an individual from Saudi Arabia. ADHRB hopes that this case will encourage other Bahrainis with Red Notices against them to seek assistance.
“We applaud INTERPOL for removing this individual from their database,” said Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of ADHRB. “We believe that INTERPOL has made the right decision to remove individuals who have been persecuted for political reasons from their lists. Bahrain has used INTERPOL Red Notices as a further method to target and punish individuals for their political activities. We hope that with this case and others, we have sent a message to the Government of Bahrain that this action will no longer go unnoticed or unchallenged by civil society.”
INTERPOL (the International Criminal Police Organization) is an independent international organization consisting of 192 member countries. While INTERPOL is a policing organization, INTERPOL has no powers of arrest or enforcement. Rather, it is up to each state’s law enforcement officers whether to arrest individuals in their territory. INTERPOL will however issue Red Notices and diffusions. A Red Notice is a request from INTERPOL to all member states to take the person identified into custody and, ultimately, deport them to the requesting country. A diffusion is a similar request prepared by an individual country that INTERPOL disseminates among its partners. As Bahrain does not publish this information on INTERPOL’s website, many individuals have only discovered the Red Notice or diffusion when they are detained attempting to travel.
INTERPOL has a process for removal for Red Notices and diffusions included in the CCF’s Statute. Article 3 of INTERPOL’s Constitution provides that the organization will not be involved in cases of a “political, military, religious or racial character.” INTERPOL will also consider the political nature on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, if an individual has been included in the INTERPOL database for his or her conviction of a crime that was based on political beliefs or actions of the individual, their inclusion on the list can be challenged, even if the charges are not expressly political. Another consideration the Commission may make is whether an individual is recognized as a refugee by another country, or seeking asylum on political grounds or on the grounds of previous torture in Bahraini custody.
“What really made our request successful was the interaction with the victim in this case – they responded quickly and in detail to emails, and provided photos, documents, and videos to help prove their case,” said Husain Abdulla. “We view the INTERPOL program as a partnership between the victims and ADHRB. As an organization, we can only work with the information given to us by the victims, and the more communication we have with these individuals, the better chance we have of drafting a successful request.”
Individuals who believe they may be the subject of a Red Notice or diffusion and are interested in this program are encouraged to fill out and send the following forms to INTERPOLComplaints@adhrb.org. Individuals can submit the forms and information in either English or Arabic.