Interpol’s flaws exposed in US-Russia fight over presidency

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The U.S. won, Russia lost and Interpol narrowly escaped disaster — that’s the upshot of an unusually high-drama vote for the international police agency’s president, dominated by fears that Russia wants to turn Interpol into a tool to hunt down its enemies.

While rights groups and Kremlin critics celebrated the surprise victory of South Korean candidate Kim Jong Yang over his Russian rival, the vote exposed flaws within Interpol that won’t vanish overnight. Now the pressure is on Kim and Interpol’s day-to-day boss, Secretary-General Juergen Stock, to fix them.

The White House came out publicly against the candidacy of Kim’s Russian rival, Alexander Prokopchuk. After the election, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Kim “the right man to lead one of the world’s most critical law enforcement bodies in its mission to preserve the rule of law and make the world a safer place.”

For Interpol, the vote staved off possible collapse, after rumblings from some member countries about quitting the agency.

The vote shows that members “thought really hard about whether they want to back away from this institution or make sure it’s run properly and operate fairly,“said Jago Russell, chief of Fair Trials International, which has championed and monitored Interpol’s reform efforts.

Authoritarian governments have long sought to leverage Interpol’s reach — and notably its system of “red notices” that flag suspects for arrest wherever they go — for political ends. While it has tried to clean up this system, it remains vulnerable to pressure from powerful member states: Its last president vanished in China in a possible political purge, while Interpol quietly looked on.

Stock, the secretary general, acknowledged that “systems can be improved” but stressed that Interpol’s information-sharing systems have led to the arrest of 10,000 serious criminals so far this year. “It is fundamental to Interpol’s existence that we are neutral and that we are independent,” he insisted.

That was a central argument for the U.S. and governments in Europe and elsewhere who lobbied against Russian security service veteran Prokopchuk. The Western powers warned that a Russian victory would have led to further abuses of Interpol by the Kremlin, seeking to go after political opponents and fugitive dissidents.

Russia accused its critics of overly politicizing the vote and campaigning to discredit Prokopchuk, calling him a respected professional. Russian officials were subdued in their response to the vote, and it got only modest attention in the state-dominated media.

South Korea’s government called Kim’s election a “national triumph” that could elevate the country’s international standing. Kim secured at least two-thirds of votes cast at Interpol’s general assembly in Dubai, though the agency does not release how member states voted.

The new president is unlikely to make immediate change, though. Kim had already been the acting president, and Interpol’s president has more of an oversight role than a hands-on position. Meanwhile, Prokopchuk will remain an Interpol vice president.

But watchdog groups say there’s no time to lose.

“Interpol has for too long traded on its James Bond image, the global good guys fighting crime,” said Russell of Fair Trials International. “That reputation needs to be underpinned with meaningful rules to prevent abuse. … I hope that this vote further focuses the mind on the need to do that.”

Kim will serve until 2020, completing the four-year mandate of his predecessor, Meng Hongwei, who was detained in China as part of a wide anti-corruption sweep there.

Based in the French city of Lyon, the 95-year-old policing body is best known for its “red notices” that identify suspects pursued by other countries, effectively putting them on a global “most-wanted” list.

Critics say countries like Russia, Turkey, Egypt, Iran and China have used the system to try to round up political opponents, journalists or activists. Interpol’s rules prohibit the use of police notices for political reasons, and the agency has toughened rules to enforce that.

However, countries can issue requests — known as “diffusions” — that flag a person wanted for arrest, before Interpol reviews the notice, leading to what critics say is a major loophole in the system.

“We accept the fact that systems can be improved and recognize that a very small number of noncompliant red notices can seriously affect the lives of innocent citizens,” Stock said.

Bill Browder, who runs an investment fund that had once operated in Moscow, says Russia used the diffusion system against him, which led to his brief arrest in Spain earlier this year.

Lawyers who have championed Interpol reform also welcomed the vote, as did Amnesty International’s Denis Krivosheev, who said, “If Russian law enforcement agencies engage in abusive practices, then the country pays with its reputation, and this is a stark reminder of it. To Russia it matters a lot, and this is obviously quite embarrassing.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


National Politics

California governor signs law to limit shootings by police

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Spurred by the fatal police shooting of a young unarmed black…

Omar: Go to Israel, see ‘cruel reality of the occupation’

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib sharply criticized Israel…

[OPINION] Epstein: Suicide or Murder?

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - According to the Bureau of Prisons, on the morning of…

[OPINION] How Do We End Mass Shootings? It's Simpler than We Think.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - So many years and so many lives...How long will mass…


An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Governor DeSantis: Florida Joins 29 States in Enhancing Voter Registration

ORLANDO, Fla. – (FNN NEWS) - On Wednesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced at the…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Governor DeSantis Announces New Health Plans for State Retirees that Offer Access to Affordable, High-Quality Care

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Ron DeSantis announced today that new health plan options will be…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Orange County Property Appraiser to Host 2019 State of Orange County Real Estate Event

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orange County Property Appraiser Rick Singh, CFA, will deliver the 2019 State…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Real Estate Veteran Khalid Muneer Files to Unseat Orange County Property Appraiser Rick Singh

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Orlando community leader and real estate veteran Khalid Muneer filed…



An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Jaguars Sign Quadree Henderson and Davis Tull, Cut Two

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed second-year WR Quadree Henderson and second-year LB Davis Tull,…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Special Olympics Athletes Unite to Inspire and Design 2022 Special Olympics USA Games Logo

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Source: Special Olympics // Today, the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games Organizing Committee…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Jaguars Launch New Mobile App and Introduce Secure Digital Ticketing

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Jaguars today introduced an all-new mobile app through a partnership…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Orlando Pride Defender Toni Pressley Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) - Source: Orlando Pride // Orlando Pride defender Toni Pressley has…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Orlando City Brings Out Big Guns in 2-0 Victory Against FC Dallas

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) - Orlando City SC, fresh from MLS All-Star Week and the…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Governor Ron DeSantis to Attend the 2019 MLS All-Star Game

ORLANDO, Fla. – Governor Ron DeSantis to attend the 2019 MLS All-Star Game and visit…


  • FILE - This July 21, 2012, file photo shows signage at the corporate headquarters of Equifax Inc., in Atlanta. Equifax will pay up to $700 million to settle with the Federal Trade Commission and others over a 2017 data breach that exposed Social Security numbers and other private information of nearly 150 million people. The proposed settlement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, if approved by the federal district court Northern District of Georgia, will provide up to $425 million in monetary relief to consumers, a $100 million civil money penalty, and other relief. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File)
    NEW YORK (AP) - Equifax to pay up to $700M in data breach settlement (AP Photo)


An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Mass Shootings Give Rise to Bullet-Resistant Backpacks

NEW YORK (AP) — Companies like Guard Dog Security, TuffyPacks and Bullet Blocker are peddling…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Universal Orlando Resort Reveals Passholder Appreciation Days Perks

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Source: Universal // Universal Orlando Resort revealed that for the…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Orlando Continues to Support Small Businesses

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Small businesses play such an important role in the economies…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

S&P 500 posts its worst week of 2019 as trade tensions flare

Investors rattled by President Donald Trump’s latest escalation in his trade war with China drove…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

ID theft stings, but it’s hard to pin on specific data hacks

NEW YORK (AP) — Equifax 2017. Marriott 2018. Capital One 2019. Data breaches through hacking attacks…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Apple Announces New Batch of Emojis on World Emoji Day

Cupertino, CA (FNN NEWS) — July 17th is National Emoji Day! What better way to celebrate…


  • blink-182 and Lil Wayne (center) launch their North American Tour June 27, 2019. Photo: Live Nation.
    LOS ANGELES (FNN NEWS) - blink-182 and Lil Wayne Join Forces for Co-Headlining Summer Tour


Universal Orlando Resort Reveals Passholder Appreciation Days Perks

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Source: Universal // Universal Orlando Resort revealed that for the…

Orange TV Shines throughout a Quarter Century of Excellence

In 1995, when Orange TV began as a 24-hour broadcast station that televised programming related…

Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison Dead at 88

NEW YORK (AP) — Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, a pioneer and reigning giant of modern…

US presidential envoy sent to Sweden for A$AP Rocky’s trial

HELSINKI (AP) — American rapper A$AP Rocky pleaded not guilty to assault as his trial…

Photos: Wall Street Plaza Comes Alive with Orlando City Viewing Party & MLS All-Star Concert

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) - Soccer fans from all over the world gathered at Wall…

Man in A$AP Rocky case allegedly hit with bottle, kicked

HELSINKI (AP) — The man allegedly assaulted by American rapper A$AP Rocky and two other…


  • LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - 26th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Blooms for 90 Days at Walt Disney World Resort (Photo courtesy Walt Disney World)


Lavish Orlando Boat Show Returns to Orange County Convention Center

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - The Orlando Boat Show has taken over the Orange County…

City of Orlando Re-Opens Constitution Green Park

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Residents and their dogs gathered in Downtown Orlando to be…

[VIDEO] Exclusive: Orlando Flash Flooding Causes Stalled Cars and Traffic Delays at Fashion Square

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - One of Florida’s typical “afternoon monsoons,” in this case a…

Universal Orlando Resort Reveals Passholder Appreciation Days Perks

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Source: Universal // Universal Orlando Resort revealed that for the…

[Cannabis 101] Bud Fact Sheet: Afghan Kush

If you're pursuing medical marijuana for your wellbeing, you may think all marijuana is created…

Theme Park Giant Universal Orlando to Build 4th Park, Epic Universe

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – A top official for theme park giant Universal Orlando said…