Over the past three years, Qatar has significantly increased its use of Interpol’s database, leading to the temporary arrests of a number of foreign nationals in countries like Britain, Greece and Turkey.
“It’s absurd that Qatar has been permitted by Interpol to use their database as a means to collect bank and credit card debts from foreign nationals”, said expert witness Radha Stirling, CEO of IPEX (Interpol and Extradition) Reform (Interpol and Extradition) Reform. Banks have pressured Qatari law enforcement to report even small debtors to Interpol, with a view to having them detained abroad and pressured to discharge credit cards and loans. This is clearly against INTERPOL’s charter and is a violation of their membership agreement but, as usual, Interpol would rather accept the donations from Middle Eastern countries and remain silent, than to punish them for abusing Interpol’s power and reputation.
“These people are not being arrested because EU countries respect Qatar. They are being arrested because Qatar is routing their request through a reputable organisation, but that organisation is losing respect fast.
“Conor Howard was recently arrested in Greece over an herb grinder. It was a joke and he was finally released after a worldwide campaign. Alan Stevenson was arrested in Czech where local authorities called it “an abuse of his rights”. British national, Steve Williams, was detained in Mallorca over a Qatar bank debt that had been trebled.
“We are pleased that we have today received word that a British national’s name has been deleted from Interpol’s database, but it should never have been there in the first place. It was another frivolous notice issued by a bank, portraying that the victim was some kind of seasoned criminal. Interpol allowed themselves a significant amount of time to review his case before finally removing it but there is no apology, no punishment for Qatar and no compensation for the victim.
“The pattern of abuse and the history of corruption within Interpol should be sufficient for the elimination of their sovereign immunity. They are not acting on behalf of governments. They are acting on behalf of their financial donors, banks and influential private corporations and individuals. They have no right to claim diplomatic immunity”.