A group of individuals and organizations, including human rights watchdog Statewatch, has urged INTERPOL to suspend Turkey’s access to its databases amid concerns of misuse to target political dissidents abroad, in an open letter to INTERPOL’S secretary-general, Jürgen Stock.
The letter expressed apprehension over Turkey’s alleged exploitation of INTERPOL’s Stolen and Lost Travel Document (SLTD) system to circumvent formal extradition processes and sidestep INTERPOL’s control measures. Critics argue that Turkish authorities have been improperly recording passports of dissidents as lost, stolen, or revoked to facilitate their deportation to Turkey, where they often face political reprisal.
The Nordic Research Monitoring Network has provided leaked documents reportedly from Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization, substantiating claims of abuse of Interpol’s SLTD system.
Statewatch and other signatories insist that any use of INTERPOL’s databases that sidesteps due process contradicts INTERPOL’s constitution and violates human rights principles. Freedom of movement, a fundamental human right enshrined in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights, is being unjustly impeded, the letter argues.
The Turkish Constitutional Court has repeatedly ruled that passport revocations or invalidations by the government are illegal and must be conducted only by court order. Despite this, more than 300,000 Turkish citizens are currently barred from traveling overseas due to unconstitutional passport cancellations.
The letter, coordinated by the Arrested Lawyers Initiative, calls on INTERPOL to urgently adopt measures to prevent misuse of its SLTD database and to immediately delete all non-compliant data.
We called on #Interpol to take a more robust approach to protecting #HumanRights by eradicating the misuse of Interpol’s databases by Turkish authorities. Signed by: @FIDU_ETS, @nhc_no, @HRF, @StatewatchEU, @HRDefsEN, @NiCanestrini, @MichelleEstlund, @ynemets, @BenCAKeith,… https://t.co/4xY8C8vLwf
— The Arrested Lawyers (@ArrestedLawyers) June 5, 2023
The letter’s signatories include members of the European Parliament, representatives from various human rights organizations and internationally recognized lawyers and advocates. They propose an immediate suspension of Turkey’s access to INTERPOL databases until the General Assembly can decide on the matter.