Posts Tagged ‘Anastasia Rybachenko’

December 2013

Rogue states: Cross-border policing can be political

The Economist

FOUR years ago this week the whistle-blowing accountant Sergei Magnitsky died in jail from beatings and abuse, having uncovered a $230m fraud against the Russian state. His client Bill Browder, a London-based financier, has been campaigning to punish those responsible with visa bans and asset freezes. But the Russian authorities have retaliated and are trying to extradite him on fraud charges, using Interpol, the world police co-operation body.

No Western country is likely to send Mr Browder to Moscow. But his travel plans are stymied by the risk of arrest . He had to cancel a visit to Sweden last month to talk to a parliamentary committee. Only after weeks of lobbying did the country’s police remove Mr Browder from their database. Germany, France and Britain have also publicly snubbed Russia’s request.

Interpol notes that its constitution prohibits “activities of a political, military, religious or racial character”; governments are not supposed to use it to settle scores with their opponents. Nevertheless its “Red Notices”, which seek the discovery and arrest of wanted persons for extradition, are open to abuse. Once issued, a Red Notice encourages—though it does not oblige—190 countries to detain the person named. 8,136 were given out last year, an increase of 160% since 2008. Interpol insists that it is not a judicial body: “queries” concerning allegations are “a matter for the relevant national authorities to address”.

But Mr Browder’s case is just one of many arousing controversy. Three years ago Algeria issued a Red Notice against Henk Tepper, a Canadian potato farmer, in a row involving export paperwork and suspect spuds. He was released in March after a year in a Lebanese jail and wants to sue the Canadian government for not protecting his rights. Interpol took 18 months to accept that the Red Notice issued against Patricia Poleo, a Venezuelan investigative journalist, by her government was politically motivated. Indonesia pursued Benny Wenda, a West Papuan tribal leader who ended up marooned in Britain; Belarus hounded an opposition leader, Ales Michalevic, when he fled to Poland.

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