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Turkey: Dozens of INTERPOL Red Notice Subjects Detained: Turkey’s Continued Abuse of INTERPOL (post 2 of 2)

red notice law journal

Michelle Estlund

18 Jan 2024

Although Turkey has been caught seeking improper INTERPOL Red Notices several times, its abuse of the organization continues.

Turkey’s current and recent INTERPOL abuse

Although Turkey has been caught seeking improper INTERPOL Red Notices several times, its abuse of the organization continues.

For example, Even after reported efforts to prevent the abuse of INTERPOL’s Red Notices, Turkish authorities repotedly continue to target INTERPOL’s Stolen and Lost Travel Document(SLTD) system. Authorities abuse this system by recording the passports of dissidents as lost, stolen, revoked, or invalid, in an attempt to have those people deported to Turkey when they travel. When an individual is improperly targeted using this system, they are stopped by a country’s border control, having been flagged as using a stolen passport. They may be detained while police checks, interviews, and searches are conducted, and ultimately the process of deportation or extradition may be initiated. 

As cited in a 2019 study requested by the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) provided data regarding Turkey’s use and abuse of INTERPOL’s Red Notice system. That data included a 2017 report in which the Stockholm Centre for Freedom concluded that ‘Turkey under autocratic leader Erdoğan’s rule must be recognized as a country that uses INTERPOL in bad faith in order to advance political persecution and hunt down government critics and opponents’. The report highlighted the abuse of INTERPOL’s SLTD system, stating that ‘this practice started in 2014 and gained pace in 2015 and 2016 when the NCB for Turkey allegedly reported passports that were canceled as stolen or lost on INTERPOL’s SLTD.

Turkey’s abusive history

The Red Notice Law Journal(RNLJ) has been monitoring and reporting on Turkey’s INTERPOL abuse for years. In 2017, RNLJ discussed a case wherein a man who, if extradited to Turkey, faced over 22 years in prison for insulting the then-president of the country. More recently in 2021, RNLJ discussed the unlawful politically motivated Red Notices that existed despite the country’s hosting of the General Assembly that year. 

Turkey’s misuse of INTERPOL makes it necessary to scrutinize each action it takes involving the organization. To continue a relationship with Turkey and maintain its own integrity as a law enforcement support organization, INTERPOL would do well to apply certain restrictions so the country no longer involves INTERPOL in its abusive practices.

As discussed in an Open Letter addressed to INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock, if INTERPOL wishes to take action against abuse, the organization may integrate the following:

  • Adopt measures to prevent abuse of its SLTD database and immediately delete all non-compliant data on the SLTD database. 

  • Take steps to hold the NCBs accountable for their misapplication of INTERPOL rules and regulations

  • Implement a similar review mechanism to that of INTERPOL Notices for the SLTD database 

  •  Suspend Turkey from using INTERPOL databases 

  • Suspend Turkey from the use of the SLTD database until further checks can be put in place

The failure or refusal to demand a higher level of accountability from abusive member countries will result in the erosion of confidence in INTERPOL as a transparent, accountable, lawful organization.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

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