- - Monday, February 19, 2018


Interpol is supposed to help the world’s police agencies communicate with each other, not to play politics. But when Interpol’s member nations voted to admit the Palestinian Authority, they brought a supporter of terrorism into the organization, and Interpol itself into new disrepute.

For years, organizations as diverse as The Heritage Foundation and Human Rights Watch have condemned the human rights abuses that authoritarian nations are perpetrating through Interpol: It’s easy for nations like Russia to accuse exiled dissidents or foreign businessmen of trumped-up offenses.

And when Interpol cooperates with the authoritarians, innocent people go to jail — or even get extradited on their accuser’s behalf. Passports are canceled, bank accounts are closed, and lives are ruined. Some victims have enough money to limit the damage — but being pursued by Interpol is always bad news.

The Palestinian Authority has no interest in using Interpol’s channels to bring common criminals to trial — which, under Interpol’s constitution, is all it is allowed to do. It wanted to join Interpol, first and foremost, as part of its political war against Israel.

Its strategy is clear and openly-confessed: Get into as many international organizations as possible, then borrow their legitimacy to attack Israel wherever it can — including through the International Criminal Court. For the Palestinian regime, Interpol membership is partly about stealing legitimacy.

But it’s also about harassing the Authority’s enemies — Palestinian and Israeli alike. The Authority has made it crystal clear that it plans to pursue Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s exiled opponents through Interpol. And it now has a way to target Israeli officials and friends of Israel — even in the U.S.

If you’re an Interpol member nation, it’s amazingly easy to get what’s known as a Red Notice — a request to locate and arrest an individual — on one of your enemies from Interpol. All you have to do is identify your target and assert that you have a court order for their arrest. No actual evidence is required.

You can get a Red Notice on someone who asserts that a local official is corrupt: that’s “criminal defamation,” says Interpol. And Interpol encourages its members to criminalize so-called “hate speech” and to ban supposedly racist political parties. You can guess what the Authority thinks of Zionism.

The U.S. and other democracies tried and failed to keep the Authority out of Interpol. To keep the Palestinians from capitalizing on their victory, we will have to put Interpol on notice that it will suffer if it enables Palestinian abuse that targets American friends of Israel.

But we shouldn’t focus on the Palestinian Authority alone. The Authority is just one of Interpol’s many authoritarian members. We need to act in ways that recognize the special risks the Authority poses, but which also make it clear that we oppose Interpol’s wider politicization.

Our first step should be to prohibit the Authority, along with other abusive nations like Russia, from accessing the information the U.S. gives to Interpol. We should announce that we will refuse to comply with Interpol requests from these abusive nations, will challenge those requests through Interpol, and will track the Authority’s abuses and annually seek to expel it from Interpol.

Today, it’s impossible to sue Interpol if it distributes a libelous Red Notice on behalf of a member: We should change Interpol’s legal immunities to make such lawsuits possible. Congress should hold hearings into Interpol’s relationship with terrorist regimes like Iran, and require transparency in Interpol’s budget.

And, finally, we should work with other democracies — starting with Britain — to create a ‘white list’ to protect victims from the consequences of Interpol abuse.

We can’t rescue all the victims of the authoritarians. But we can do a lot by ourselves, and more with others. And if we don’t, we’re likely one day to find Americans being harassed by Interpol on the charge of being friends of Israel and telling the truth about the Palestinian Authority.

Ted Bromund is a senior research fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom.

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