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UAE Interpol Abuse Increased, Not Ceased - Emirates Expanding Use of Interpol as Retaliatory Tactic

The UAE government is continuing to misuse Interpol as an instrument for debt collection, despite recent reports that they had ceased to do so. Debt issues, unless they involve instances of deliberate fraud, do not generally fall within Interpol's mandate, and the Emirates has been strongly criticised in the past for irresponsibly reporting debtors to the international policing agency in violation of protocol.

"We just received confirmation from a new client that he was put on Interpol for debt and it was only removed once he repaid the bank" says Radha Stirling, Director of Detained in Dubai ."It was for only approximately 100,000 AED”.

It has become a common practice for prominent Emiratis to file retaliatory criminal cases and to use Interpol against anyone who may initiate civil action is initiated against them.

Because the UAE has become infamous for its liberal use of Interpol, countries are taking their Red Notices less seriously and allowing people to travel without being arrested. This includes the USA, India, many European countries, Hong Kong and a number of other popular destinations. However, any individual reported to Interpol is still at risk when traveling abroad, as it is up to the discretion of local authorities whether or not to enforce a Red Notice.

"We have dealt with a number of Interpol Red Notices this year," Stirling explains. "The number of cases has increased approximately 20% every year since the Arabian business article of 2012 ( which reported that the UAE no longer sends debt cases to Interpol. So, not only are they still doing it, but the practice has morphed into a tactic for retaliating against civil suits, and that seems to be why it is becoming more frequent. Listing parties on Interpol and taking UAE criminal action (rather than civil) prevents the complainant from pursuing their UAE civil actions effectively, thereby denying them civil justice”.

Although it is common knowledge that UAE Red Notices are often frivolous, several cases have lead to arrests, even if the detention is only temporary (3 hours to 3 weeks). In some cases formal extradition proceedings have been taken. Detained in Dubai has provided expert testimony in many such instances, which has consistently resulted in extradition to the UAE being denied by the requested countries.

The UAE's Interpol Red Notice reports are no longer listed on the Interpol website so the public has no way of knowing how many are active. Previously, the UAE was one of the most active users per head of population.

The UAE has been largely unsuccessful in their extradition applications but still has not sought to improve their request process. The UK Courts encouraged the UAE to provide more information in respect of their human rights records but the UAE has failed to do so in subsequent cases. This unwillingness to conform to evidentiary standards further indicates that the extradition requests are primarily used as pressure tactics, and are not motivated by a genuine desire for parties to be extradited. It appears that the UAE government undertakes these procedures to appease local citizens who are seeking to combat civil cases made against them, this is particularly true where they are locals in positions of power, or are members of prominent families.

Human Rights groups such as Amnesty International and Fair Trials International have been lobbying the issue of Interpol Abuse, and Interpol is going to have to address this matter sooner rather than later. Currently, Interpol is not liable for publishing Red Notices, and the victim of Interpol abuse is left no recourse for their suffering, which is grave.

We hope that the UAE will establish a review body to assess whether an Interpol notice should be issued, particularly to analyse whether the matter is of a civil nature and has been deliberately criminalised for personal reasons. We further encourage Interpol itself to have an internal review body to assess this commonly abused pattern.

Before any of these changes are made, we expect to see an increase of Interpol Red Notices and extradition requests, in line with the past 5 years.

Media contact

Radha Stirling:

Skype: Radha.Stirling

Telephone +44 7050 686 745

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