Interpol’s Lack of Power to Act Preemptively in Fighting Government Abuse of the Diffusion System

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Friday, June 7, 2019
Ted Bromund

In Volume 35, Issue 5 of the International Enforcement Law Reporter (May 2019), Mr. Yuriy Nemets argued that “INTERPOL’s rules not only give the organization the power to screen all incoming diffusions, notices and requests from governments and block them before they enter the organization’s channels, the rules actually require INTERPOL to do so to prevent abuse.” While I accept this assessment as an accurate depiction of the legal position, I cannot accept it as an accurate assessment of the technical reality. Our disagreement stems fundamentally from our different understandings of INTERPOL’s nature, with Mr. Nemets seeing it as a legal entity, whereas I see it as a fundamentally political organization, albeit it one that acts in the realm of international law enforcement. Exploring these different understandings sheds light on the fundamental challenges that Mr. Nemets and I agree Interpol must confront. Before I explain the grounds of my disagreement, I will set out the subjects on which I believe Mr. Nemets and I agree. We are opposed to the abuse of the INTERPOL system for political and other illegitimate purposes, a subject on which I have written widely. We are also self-evidently concerned by abuse of INTERPOL diffusions, which has received less attention than INTERPOL’s red notices. Finally, we believe that INTERPOL should do more to combat these abuses, and that INTERPOL must abide by the rules in its Constitution and its Rules on the Processing of Data (RPD) if it is to limit these abuses.