Interpol’s headquarters on 19 October 2019 [FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images]
Middle East Monitor
30 Nov 2023
A Bahraini political dissident is suing Interpol following his arrest in Serbia in 2021, which led to what his lawyers say was unlawful extradition, imprisonment and torture.
According to a report by Middle East Eye yesterday, asylum seeker Ahmed Jaafar Mohamed Ali travelled to the Balkan country two years ago but was detained by authorities based on the policing organisation’s “Red Notice” system. His lawyers have since filed a civil suit in a French court, arguing that the request violated Interpol’s governing principles.
Interpol’s Red Notice is a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action. Although it is not an international arrest warrant, it serves as a tool used by the Lyon-based organisation to seek the location and detention of wanted individuals by a member country.
In Ali’s case, the notice was given despite the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) calling on Belgrade to suspend his extradition, over “possible risks of torture and/or ill-treatment” and publishing a ruling that prohibited his extradition in January 2022.
Three days after the ECHR ruling, a private plane, chartered by UAE-based Royal Jet Airlines, took Ali to his native Bahrain, where he was imprisoned on two life sentences in Jau Prison. Ali says he has been beaten, denied medical treatment and held in prolonged solitary confinement.
In a message from prison, Ali was quoted as saying: “I suffered torture and I will serve the rest of my life behind bars in one of the most notorious prisons on earth.”
“I hold Interpol responsible for my unimaginable suffering since being extradited to Bahrain,” he added.
Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, advocacy director at the British-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), said Interpol should have known of the risks associated with Ali’s extradition to the Gulf kingdom.
“Their red notice system is fundamentally flawed if they are not able to keep political dissidents like Ahmed Jaafar safe from extradition,” Alwadaei said.
Last year several human rights groups, including Fair Trials, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and BIRD, called on Interpol to reform the way it handles Red Notice requests.