International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL)
INTERPOL is the world's largest international police organization, with 186 member countries. Created in 1923, it facilitates cross-border police co-operation, and supports and assists all organizations, authorities and services whose mission is to prevent or combat international crime. Its founding document is its Constitution.
||Keywords: INTERPOL, UN Security Council, international police co-operation, international notices
INTERPOL aims to facilitate international police co-operation even where diplomatic relations do not exist between particular countries. Action is taken within the limits of existing laws in different countries and in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. INTERPOL's constitution, adopted in 1956, prohibits any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.
As defined in Article 5 of its Constitution, INTERPOL comprises the following:
Recent Developments: Creation of an INTERPOL - United Nations Security Council Special Notice
- General Assembly, which is the body of supreme authority in the Organization,
- Executive Committee, composed of 13 members elected by the General Assembly and headed by the President of the Organization,
- General Secretariat, headed by a Secretary General elected by the General Assembly for a renewable five years term,
- National Central Bureaus, those are national bodies appointed by each member country and serve as liaison body between the member country and the other member countries, the General Secretariat and national law enforcement bodies,
- Advisers, appointed by the General Assembly.
One of INTERPOL's most important functions is to help police in member countries share critical crime-related information using the organization's system of international notices. To that end, INTERPOL created in 1946 an innovative tool which is still in use today, the international notices.
Based on requests from National Central Bureaus (NCBs), the General Secretariat produces notices in all of the organization's official languages: Arabic, English, French and Spanish. In addition, notices are used by the International Criminal Tribunals and the International Criminal Court to seek persons wanted for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
The six traditional types of notices and their objectives are:
In 2005, upon the request of the United Nations Security Council, an INTERPOL-United Nations Special Notice was created to support the United Nations Security Council in the fight against terrorism. The Security Council has adopted several resolutions relating to this fight: 1267 (1999), 1333 (2000), 1390 (2002) and 1455 (2003). The United Nations Security Council requested through the adoption of Resolution 1617 on July 29, 2005 that the United Nations Secretary General take the necessary steps to increase co-operation between the United Nations and INTERPOL in order to provide the Committee established pursuant to Resolution 1267 (1999) with better tools to fulfill its mandate more effectively.
- Red Notices, to seek the arrest or provisional arrest of wanted persons with a view to extradition,
- Yellow Notices, to help locate missing persons, often minors, or to help identify persons who are unable to identify themselves,
- Blue Notices, to collect additional information about a person's identity or activities in relation to a crime,
- Black Notices, to seek information on unidentified bodies,
- Green Notices, to provide warnings and criminal intelligence about persons who have committed criminal offences and are likely to repeat these crimes in other countries,
- Orange Notices, to warn police, public entities and other international organizations about potential threats from disguised weapons, parcel bombs and other dangerous materials.
The INTERPOL General Assembly welcomed UN Security Council Resolution 1617 through the passage of Resolution AG-2005-RES-05 and approved that INTERPOL's General Secretariat devise ways to increase co-operation with the United Nations in the fight against terrorist acts by Al Qaeda and the Taliban and associated individuals and entities, and that for that purpose the INTERPOL General Secretariat create a special notice.
This was formalized in an exchange of letters between UN Secretary General and INTERPOL constituting a supplementary agreement to the Co-operation Agreement concluded between UN and INTERPOL in 1997.
The INTERPOL-United Nations Special Notice is issued for groups and individuals associated with Al-Qaeda and the Taliban listed by the 1267 Committee's (1267's Committee list) of the United Nations Security Council and subject to sanctions through the freezing of assets, travel bans and arms embargoes. It has two functions. First, it alerts law enforcement officers at the operational level of those who are the subject of UN's anti-terrorism sanctions. Second, it constitutes a request to each law enforcement authority to co-operate with INTERPOL and the UN by undertaking the actions specified in the notice against the person concerned.
This agreement was subsequently extended to provide all UN Security Council sanctions committees to provide them with better tools to implement those measures adopted by the Security Council and monitored by the committees, particularly the freezing of assets, travel bans, arms embargoes, etc. This was formalized through an exchange of letters between UN Secretary General and INTERPOL following the adoption of Resolution AG-2006-RES-22 by INTERPOL General Assembly as an answer to UN Security Council Resolution 1699 (2006).
Through approving the creation of the Special Notice, the General Assembly adopted a general legal provision aimed at ensuring that the said notice is not used to be prejudicial to the fundamental rights of the individuals and the rights of the groups.
In Resolution AG-2005-RES-05, the INTERPOL General Assembly specifically stated that the United Nations should ensure that persons who allege that their rights as reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have been violated as a consequence of information duly processed by INTERPOL on the request of the Security Council via INTERPOL's channels pursuant to the present provisions shall have recourse, whether direct or indirect, to a remedy pursuant to the procedures as set forth by the 1267 Committee in its 'Guidelines of the Committee for the Conduct of its Work'.
It is not surprise that INTERPOL General Assembly included such a provision considering the discussions around the constitution of the list by the 1267 Committee.
This right of personal appeal thus entitles any concerned person to go the UN Security Council to allege that their rights have been violated. Responsibility for redressing these claims, therefore, falls fully to Council, wholly excluding any role for INTERPOL. The only exception is when INTERPOL makes a mistake in transcribing information communicated by the UN. This provision was fully endorsed by the UN in the exchange of letters. The scheme thus creates a specific responsibility regime.
While INTERPOL has created its own independent Commission for the Control of INTERPOL's files, which is the official body responsible for monitoring the application of the Organization's data protection rules to personal data processed by Interpol, recourse to this commission isn't direct under the exchange of letters.
Indeed, before INTERPOL examines a complaint, UN itself will have to look at it and should they find that something isn't right, they should correct the information and inform INTERPOL accordingly so that necessary changes can be made in the Special Notice subject of the complaint. In such a case, UN will act in accordance with the "Guidelines of the Committee for the Conduct of its Work", which propose a comprehensive approach and remedies to such cases.
Under this legal and procedural scheme, UN and INTERPOL developed a creative way to ensure the right protection of individuals' basic rights under their respective legal framework thus maintaining their sovereignty, provided that such a term can be used to refer to IOs, and independence in a close co-operation framework.
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Available at http://www.interpol.int/Public/ICPO/LegalMaterials
Available at https://www.interpol.int/Public/ICPO/GeneralAssembly
Available at www.un.org/sc/committees/1267/index.shtml.
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