The rise of China and the United Arab Emirates within Interpol coincides with the reintegration into the cogs of the organization of a country whose human rights record is even more damning: Syria . Since October, Damascus can once again access Interpol’s information exchange system, which allows member states to send messages directly to each other.
Syria had been « disconnected » from this network in 2012, when international sanctions fell on the Assad regime, in reaction to the crushing in blood of the pro-democracy revolt, which had erupted a year earlier. For nine years, Syria retained its status as a member of the organization. But communications from its national central office – BCN, the interface between the police services of a member state and Interpol – were filtered by the general secretariat, based in Lyon. They were only sent to their recipient if they were judged in accordance with the internal regulations of the organization.
Interpol says it lifted these restrictions after « Regular monitoring of messages from the BCN of Damascus », whose staff have been trained. The decision is presented as a purely technical measure, article 3 of the statutes of the organization prohibiting it « Any activity or intervention in matters or matters of a political nature ».
Opponents of the Assad regime, for their part, cannot help seeing this initiative as a further step forward in the slow but steady process of deostracizing the Syrian regime. They suspect that the importance assumed by the United Arab Emirates – the Arab state at the forefront of these normalization efforts – in the bodies of the organization is not unrelated to the recovery by Damascus of all of its rights.
In a joint statement, twenty Syrian civil society NGOs were moved by « Fear and anxiety » that this decision arouses, in particular among the huge contingent of anti-Assad dissidents, driven into exile. The signatories fear that the Syrian authorities will abuse the red notices procedure – international wanted notices, issued at the request of a member – to request the extradition of political opponents, or at least hamper their efforts to regularize their status in their host country.
Unfounded concerns, assures Interpol. The institution says its statutes oblige each national central office to act « In the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ».