Turkey’s Deputy Interior Minister İsmail Çatakli this week criticised INTERPOL for rejecting 646 Red Notice requests made by Turkey, since the failed coup attempt of 2016. The allegation was first reported by state-run news agency Anadolu. Deputy Minister Çatakli accused INTERPOL of “cherry-pick[ing] requests” and of failing to support Tukey in the fight against terror.
It has been reported that 462 of these requests have been issued by the Turkish judiciary against members of the faith-based Gülen movement, which stands accused of playing a leading role in the orchestration of the 2016 coup attempt. A further 115 are alleged to relate to members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has been involved in a guerrilla campaign in Turkey sine the 1980s.
According to Deputy Minister Çatakli, INTERPOL had not objected to the 66 warrants issued by Turkey in respect of “Islamic State” fighters. The Turkish government has designated the Gülen movement, PKK and Islamic State as terrorist organisations and criticised INTERPOL’s double standard in dealing with requests for these groups.
These accusations come at the same time as a report submitted to a German Parliamentary Inquiry by the Socialist Left party revealed that Turkey has called on INTERPOL 1252 times to gather information and/or seek the extradition of Turkish citizens in Germany. The figures in the report break down into 1168 Red Notices (requests to arrest and extradite) and 84 Blue Notices (requests for information).
Andrej Hunko, Member of the German Bundestag for the Left party, raised concerns about this unusually high number in Parliament. He believes that “INTERPOL is being instrumentalised” to target Turkish dissidents in clear violation of the INTERPOL Constitution. Article 3 of which forbids the organisation from undertaking any activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.
INTERPOL is clearly cognizant of the ever-present risk of abuse by members and in 2018 established the Notices and Diffusions Task Force consisting of legal experts from Slovakia, Croatia, Ukraine, Sweden and Germany to scrutinise the Red Notices received to ensure Article 3 compliance.
In Mr. Hunko’s view this does not go far enough, and he is calling on INTERPOL to begin reviewing Blue Notice requests a well.
Despite the ongoing controversy and concerns about its conduct and rule of law, Turkey has just been selected to host INTERPOL’s 90th General Assembly meeting in 2021.