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Senators Menendez, Wicker, Cardin INTERPOL Oversight Provision Approved in NDAA

WASHINGTONU.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today was joined by Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) in applauding the inclusion of their amendment to the National Defense and Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY22 to prevent the misuse of INTERPOL Red Notice procedures by countries seeking to silence and persecute political opponents, human rights defenders, and journalists, among others. The bipartisan amendment combines provisions authored by Senator Menendez in the Defending America Security from Kremlin Aggression (DASKA) Act and Senators Wicker and Cardin’s Transnational Repression Accountability and Prevention (TRAP) Act.

“Increasing transparency and accountability at INTERPOL underscores the bipartisan commitment of the United States Senate to push back against countries, large or small, seeking to distort legitimate law enforcement cooperation to instead pursue political opponents or personal vendettas,” Chairman Menendez said. “This new provision will strengthen protections for human rights defenders, political dissidents, and journalists, and pave the way for the international community to join the United States in pressing for reforms and standing against the abuse of INTERPOL Red Notices by China and Russia, among others.”

“There is no reason for any democracy, especially the United States, to be forced to play a part in authoritarian regimes’ blatant abuse of INTERPOL Red Notices,” Senator Wicker said. “I am pleased Congress has taken action to name publicly the abusers, such as Russia and China, and prevent American law enforcement from having to do the dirty work of these repressive autocrats.” 

“By co-opting and undermining the rule of law to harass and intimidate dissidents and political opponents, corrupt regimes threaten our national security,” said Senator Cardin. “Our provision will make it U.S. policy to fight exploitation of INTERPOL, including by naming and shaming member states that abuse its mechanisms. This amendment will protect the United States, our allies, and all those fighting or fleeing authoritarian regimes from extraterritorial and extrajudicial abuse.”

Police organizations worldwide use INTERPOL Red Notice and Diffusion procedures to request the arrest of international fugitives pending their extradition to the member state issuing the Notice. Many countries, most notably China, Russia, and Turkey, frequently and egregiously abuse this system. Untold numbers of innocent people have been designated as international fugitives and extradited to countries where they have likely faced political persecution, torture, or death.

The amendment’s provisions:

  • Require the Attorney General and Secretary of State to provide a comprehensive list of all countries found to be abusing INTERPOL Red Notice procedures;
  • Codify current policies that prevent the United States from extraditing foreign persons solely on the ground of an INTERPOL Red Notice; and
  • Require U.S. advocacy for reforms of INTERPOL to increase transparency and secure the system and its processes from politically motivated interference.

Find a copy of the amendment included HERE.