Anas al-Abdah, head of the negotiating body of the Syrian opposition, said on Wednesday that a decision by Interpol would endanger the lives of millions living in the Syrian diaspora, by allowing Syrian regime president Bashar al-Assad to access Interpol data. He added that this is similar to providing the regime with weapons to kill its own people and destroy Syria. He stressed that the organization has given a war criminal the data-based means to wage yet another war against the Syrian people.
On Tuesday, Interpol re-granted the Syrian regime access to Interpol’s communications network. In a statement, the organization’s information office confirmed that the Syrian regime had been re-granted access to the network.
“I am very disappointed and deeply concerned that such a decision will be made,” said Toby Cadman, a British lawyer working on war crimes trials in Syria.
“Interpol’s many regulations are vague: there is neither real oversight nor accountability. The regulations are routinely abused by some regimes, such as the Syrian regime, which pays no attention to human rights,” Cadman told the Guardian.
Problematic red flags
Interpol’s 194 member states can ask the organization to issue “red flags” on wanted persons. This would amount to a request from the governments of other member states to locate and arrest individuals, who may then undergo further procedures, including extradition.
The Charter for the Establishment of Interpol, which is based in Lyon, France, states that Interpol is a politically neutral body. The Charter further stipulates that all “red flags” are subject to review and scrutiny.
“It is very easy to issue a red flag without needing to provide adequate information about the person requested. This means that Interpol, which is underfunded and understaffed, cannot properly review applications, let alone cancel red flags in many European countries, such as the Netherlands and Britain, which follow difficult and slow processes,” Cadman said.
“In the past, I have worked with targeted persons who have spent months in detention — one of whom remained under house arrest for a whole year before we could cancel his warrant.”
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.