This week, the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) removed the name of a British entrepreneur from its Red Notice database, after a successful appeal was launched by IPEX Reform against his wrongful listing.
Radha Stirling, founder and CEO of IPEX Reform and Detained in Dubai, said in a statement about the case, “Our client’s removal from Interpol is a great relief for him and his family after the almost decade-long ordeal they suffered because of corruption in Qatar. After starting and operating a successful gym business in Doha, our client was approached by a local investor with promises of support and expansion, only to then have that same investor sabotage the business, force its closure, and fabricate charges against our client to prevent him from pursuing justice.
“He was tried and convicted on these false charges in absentia and his name was wrongfully listed with a Red Notice on the Interpol database. His life has been turned upside-down both by the malice of a fraudulent business partner and corruption of the Qatari legal system, but also by the negligence of Interpol itself, which continues to accept Red Notice requests from notorious and habitual abusers of the system, like Qatar and the UAE, without due scrutiny.”
Qatar has been widely accused of abusing the Interpol red notice system, particularly in their use of Interpol for civil and financial disputes.
“Qatar and other Gulf States, use red notices to target foreign nationals who have fallen out with local officials or businesses,” Stirling explained, “Very often, they have no intention of genuinely pursuing extradition; rather, they just weaponise Interpol as a tactic of harassment and extortion, knowing the massive difficulties a Red Notice causes individuals who are listed. Interpol has allowed itself to be used as an instrument of injustice, with locals in the Gulf invoking it as a threat against foreign nationals to force them into silent capitulation, or to extort money from them. For the overwhelming majority of our clients listed on Interpol by Qatar, their cases involve financial disputes, bounced cheques, or cases in which they themselves were the victims of fraud, embezzlement, or wrongful termination. None of these conform with Interpol’s own rules on data collection, but the Red Notices are issued anyway, without proper vetting.”
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Stirling emphasised that Interpol has a responsibility to ensure that Red Notices are used for legitimate purposes. However, Interpol has been failing to adequately scrutinise Qatari requests, she explained, “Qatar's abuse of the Interpol Red Notice system is a serious concern. It is a violation of the rights of foreign nationals and it undermines the integrity of Interpol. Interpol is quite literally being used to expand the de facto jurisdiction of authoritarian countries that are infamous for their lack of due process, judicial independence, and for their documented human rights abuses. Interpol is accepting Red Notice requests over cases that would not even be considered a crime in most countries, and which – more to the point – violate their own rules.”
Gulf Injustice Podcast, (29th May 2023). Stirling lets client know that his Qatar Interpol Red Notice has been deleted
Stirling is a leading voice calling for procedural and institutional reforms at Interpol, even establishing an independent organisation dedicated to this purpose, IPEX Reform; which seeks to improve the transparency, effectiveness, and fairness of Interpol and global standards pertaining to extradition.
“Of course, we are very gratified that our appeal against this Red Notice was successful,” She said, “But Interpol actually prolonged our client’s ordeal by granting Qatar an extended period of time to present evidence to justify the listing. His name – which never should have been listed in the first place -- should have been deleted from the database months ago, If we had not persistently lobbied Interpol, and were it not for our years of work in this area, Interpol could have extended Qatar’s deadline indefinitely. We are not seeing any substantial improvement in the way they handle these cases; quite the opposite. It seems that Interpol is increasing in its indifference to Qatar’s abuse of the system, and its indifference to the suffering of the innocent people whom they wrongfully list as fugitives.”
Stirling suggests that if people who have been the victims of Interpol abuse launch a class action lawsuit against the organisation, perhaps Interpol will begin taking reform more seriously. “Over the course of the past 15 years, we have assisted thousands of individuals who were wrongfully subjected to Red Notices on behalf of countries like Qatar and the UAE; all of whom we got successfully de-listed, essentially confirming that Interpol should have never issued Red Notices against them to begin with. None of these people have ever been compensated for their victimisation, for the hardship, trauma, reputational and financial damage Interpol’s negligence caused them; and Interpol has never been held accountable for these failures. Indeed, Interpol has made little to no progress in ensuring that such failures will not be repeated; on the contrary, we have seen wrongful listings multiply year-on-year. It may well be time to take the international policing organisation to court.”
Detained in Dubai: http://www.detainedindubai.org
Detained in Doha: https://www.detainedindoha.org
Radha Stirling: http://www.radhastirling.com
CLAN - Crypto Legal Advocacy Network: https://www.bitclan.org/
Due Process International: http://www.dueprocess.international
IPEX - Interpol & Extradition Reform & Defence Experts: https://www.ipexreform.com/
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