Posts Tagged ‘fair trials international’

December 2013

Fair Trials International group urges reforms for Interpol arrests

Washington Post

The case of a Russian environmental activist who fled the country but was later arrested, despite finding sanctuary in Finland, reveals how political motives can sometimes improperly influence international police work, a London-based group said this week.

The international police network in question is Interpol, which represents 190 member countries, including the United States, allowing them to issue international warrants or request information about suspects facing criminal charges at home.

Fair Trials International, an advocacy group for those arrested abroad, issued a report early Thursday asserting that the agency is used by some of its members — including Russia, Belarus, Turkey, Iran and Venezuela — to pursue political ends.

Pyotr Silaev, a 28-year-old Russian who took part in a protest in Moscow in July 2010 against the destruction of a forest in the suburb of Khimki, illustrates how Interpol can be wrongly used, according to Robert Jackman, a Fair Trials spokesman.

When police began arresting some of the demonstrators and accused Silaev of hooliganism, he fled to Finland, which accepted him as a political refugee.

Later, Silaev traveled to Spain and was arrested there on a Russian request issued through Interpol. He spent eight days in prison and six months stuck in Spain while fighting extradition to Russia. A Spanish court eventually refused to extradite him, ruling that his arrest was politically motivated. Fair Trials is trying to get his name stricken from the Interpol database.

When Moscow police wanted Interpol help to arrest William Browder, the investment banker who campaigned for the United States to punish Russia for human rights abuses, Browder quickly found a way to give the international agency his side of the story.

Interpol promptly declared the request to locate Browder — who fought for passage of the U.S. Magnitsky Act — politically motivated and deleted the entry from its database. Browder’s situation showed that individuals are shielded from abuse by Interpol, according to Ronald K. Noble, the agency’s head.

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