The sad fact is that Interpol has never been as agreeable an organisation as its public image sometimes suggests. From the late 1930s to 1945, it fell under the control of Adolf Hitler, and for many decades thereafter it reportedly refused to help track down Nazi war criminals on the grounds that it did not get involved in “political” crimes.
Its former president, Jackie Selebi, was found guilty of taking bribes from a drug trafficker in 2010.
Another former president, Meng Hongwei, vanished in September 2018 before reappearing in his native China, where he was eventually sentenced to 13 years for accepting bribes. Critics say the charges against Hongwei are politically motivated.
Most worrying, however, is the mounting evidence that Interpol’s channels are happy to assist some of the world’s most vicious regimes as they target internal dissidents. This is often carried out using what is called a red notice, which allows member states to request the arrest of alleged criminals who have fled abroad.
There are many harrowing examples of misuse of the red notice system. Last year, I wrote in MEE about the terrible case of three former members of the Egyptian opposition who had been subject to red notices after fleeing Egypt in the wake of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s military coup.
Bahraini footballer Hakeem al-Araibi was detained on the basis of a red notice in Thailand last year, despite having been granted refugee status by Australia.