“When a country sees a target they want to extradite, they can be all too keen to sign on the dotted line without any consideration of what this may mean for their own citizens”, explains Stirling, who founded the organisation IPEX Reform to fight Interpol abuse. “Australia went through the same process a decade ago but we managed to lobby Parliament to ensure human rights provisions were inserted into the treaty. Danish courts will now need to ensure they offer the equivalent protection to those the UAE may seek to extradite”.
Denmark has hunted down and arrested a number of Danish and European citizens at the request of the UAE via Interpol’s system, even before the treaty. “When someone is listed on Interpol, it’s ‘arrest first and ask questions later’ and the UAE has been able to ride off the credibility of its Interpol membership. In other words, Denmark would not have arrested those individuals had they been asked directly by the UAE but because the request had come via Interpol, they took it seriously”, added Stirling.
The UAE has an astonishing history of Interpol Abuse, a term used to describe the inappropriate and abusive reporting of individuals to Interpol’s databases. “The UAE abuses their membership by reporting individuals to the database for the purpose of harassment, intimidation, vengeance or extortion. Local charges and convictions in absentia are manufactured against individuals before being listed with Interpol. One classic manoeuvre is to list someone with a small credit card debt under the category of fraud. Investors and entrepreneurs are regularly listed for fraud, embezzlement or bounced cheques to create a situation where they are unable to defend themselves in court and the Emirati complainant can simply steal their assets. Journalists, activists and political ‘opponents’ are commonly reported to the agency. This kind of abuse has been particularly prevalent from countries like the UAE, Saudi, Qatar, Bahrain, Russia, China and Egypt and there are no signs of change.
“Interpol does not investigate a request from a member state before publishing. It relies on the country to voluntarily comply with the rules and now we have the UAE running the presidency of the organisation so we expect to see an increase in abusive notices.
“The misuse of Interpol has caused thousands of wrongful arrests across the globe with many of the victims being detained for months or years before their ultimate exoneration. In the event of a successful extradition request from the UAE, an individual is likely to face unfair trials, forced confessions, human rights violations and even torture. It is for this reason the British courts have denied extraditions to the country, even with the presence of a mutual treaty. Like the UK, Danish courts must consider the likelihood of citizens facing violations in the event of their extradition.
“We have a client in Denmark who has been the victim of this very harassment and is waiting to be removed from Interpol’s database. With the new treaty, he is concerned that the UAE may immediately request his extradition meaning he would face lengthy and expensive legal proceedings and potentially grave human rights violations in the event he were sent to Dubai. He should not be seen as ‘collateral damage’ in the pursuit of Sanjay Shah and Denmark must protect its citizens.”