|International Criminal Police Organization|
Organisation internationale de police criminelle
|Motto||Connecting police for a safer world|
|Annual budget||EUR78 million (2013)|
EUR113 million (2017)
|Countries||194 member countries|
|Map of International Criminal Police Organization's jurisdiction.|
|Governing body||INTERPOL General Assembly|
|National Central Bureaus||181|
The International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO-INTERPOL; French: Organisation internationale de police criminelle), more commonly known as INTERPOL ( INT-?-pol, -?r-pohl), is an international organization that facilitates worldwide police cooperation and crime control. Headquartered in Lyon, France, it was founded in 1923 as the International Criminal Police Commission (ICPC); the name INTERPOL served as the agency's telegraphic address in 1946, and was chosen as its common name in 1956.
INTERPOL provides investigative support, expertise, and training to law enforcement worldwide in battling three major areas of transnational crime: terrorism, cybercrime, and organized crime. Its broad mandate covers virtually every kind of crime, including crimes against humanity, child pornography, drug trafficking and production, political corruption, copyright infringement, and white-collar crime. The agency also helps coordinate cooperation among the world's law enforcement institutions through criminal databases and communications networks.
INTERPOL has an annual budget of around EUR113 million (US$127 million), most of which is provided through annual contributions by its membership of police forces in 181 countries. Its day-to-day operations are carried out by the General Secretariat, which is staffed by both police and civilians and led by the Secretary General, currently Jürgen Stock, the former deputy head of Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office. As of 2013, the General Secretariat employed a staff of 756, representing 100 member countries. The General Assembly, composed of all member countries, is the governing body, electing the Executive Committee and its President--currently Kim Jong Yang of South Korea--to supervise the implementation of INTERPOL's policies and administration.
INTERPOL seeks to remain as politically neutral as possible so as to fulfill its mandate; hence its charter bars the organization from undertaking interventions or activities of a political, military, religious, or racial nature or involving itself in disputes over such matters.
In the first part of the 20th century, several efforts were taken to formalize international police cooperation, but they initially failed. Among these efforts were the First International Criminal Police Congress in Monaco in 1914, and the International Police Conference in New York in 1922. The Monaco Congress failed because it was organized by legal experts and political officials, not by police professionals, while the New York Conference failed to attract international attention.
In 1923, a new initiative was taken at the International Criminal Police Congress in Vienna, where the International Criminal Police Commission (ICPC) was successfully founded as the direct forerunner of INTERPOL. Founding members included police officials from Austria, Germany, Belgium, Poland, China, Egypt, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, and Yugoslavia. The United Kingdom joined in 1928. The United States did not join Interpol until 1938, although a US police officer unofficially attended the 1923 congress.
Following Anschluss in 1938, the organization fell under the control of Nazi Germany, and the Commission's headquarters were eventually moved to Berlin in 1942. Most members withdrew their support during this period. From 1938 to 1945, the presidents of the ICPC included Otto Steinhäusl, Reinhard Heydrich, Arthur Nebe, and Ernst Kaltenbrunner. All were generals in the SS, and Kaltenbrunner was the highest ranking SS officer executed after the Nuremberg Trials.
After the end of World War II, the organization was in 1946 revived as the International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO) by officials from Belgium, France, Scandinavia and the UK. Its new headquarters were established in Paris, then from 1967 in Saint-Cloud, a suburb of Paris. They remained there until 1989, when they were moved to their present location in Lyon.
In July 2010, former INTERPOL President Jackie Selebi was found guilty of corruption by the South African High Court in Johannesburg for accepting bribes worth EUR156,000 ($192,831) from a drug trafficker. After being charged in January 2008, Selebi resigned as president of INTERPOL and was put on extended leave as National Police Commissioner of South Africa. He was temporarily replaced by Arturo Herrera Verdugo, the National Commissioner of Investigations Police of Chile and former vice president for the American Zone, who remained acting president until the appointment of Khoo Boon Hui in October 2008.
On 8 November 2012, the 81st General Assembly closed with the election of Deputy Central Director of the French Judicial Police, Mireille Ballestrazzi, as the first female president of the organization.
In November 2016, Meng Hongwei, a politician from the People's Republic of China, was elected president during the 85th Interpol General Assembly, and was to serve in this capacity until 2020. At the end of September 2018, Meng was reported missing during a trip to China, after being "taken away" for questioning by "discipline authorities". Chinese police later confirmed that Meng had been arrested on charges of bribery as part of a national anti-corruption campaign. On 7 October 2018, INTERPOL announced that Meng had resigned his post with immediate effect and that the Presidency would be temporarily occupied by INTERPOL Senior Vice-President (Asia) Kim Jong Yang of South Korea. On 21 November 2018, INTERPOL's General Assembly elected Kim to fill the remainder of Meng's term, in a controversial election which saw accusations that the other candidate, Vice President Alexander Prokopchuk of Russia, had used INTERPOL notices to target critics of the Russian government.
The role of INTERPOL is defined by the general provisions of its constitution.
Article 2 states that its role is:
- To ensure and promote the widest possible mutual assistance between all criminal police authorities within the limits of the laws existing in the different countries and in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- To establish and develop all institutions likely to contribute effectively to the prevention and suppression of ordinary law crimes.
Article 3 states:
It is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.
Contrary to frequent portrayals in popular culture, Interpol is not a supranational law enforcement agency and has no agents who are allowed to make arrests. Instead, it is an international organization that functions as a network of criminal law enforcement agencies from different countries. The organization thus functions as an administrative liaison among the law enforcement agencies of the member countries, providing communications and database assistance, assisted via the central headquarters in Lyon.
Interpol's collaborative form of cooperation is useful when fighting international crime because language, cultural and bureaucratic differences can make it difficult for police officials from different nations to work together. For example, if US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) special agents track a terrorist to Italy, they may not know whom to contact in the Polizia di Stato, if the Carabinieri have jurisdiction over some aspect of the case, or who in the Italian government must be notified of the FBI's involvement. The FBI can contact the Interpol National Central Bureau in Italy, which would act as a liaison between the US and Italian law enforcement agencies.
Interpol's databases at the Lyon headquarters can assist law enforcement in fighting international crime. While national agencies have their own extensive crime databases, the information rarely extends beyond one nation's borders. Interpol's databases can track criminals and crime trends around the world, specifically by means of authorized collections of fingerprints and face photos, lists of wanted persons, DNA samples, and travel documents. Interpol's lost and stolen travel document database alone contains more than 12 million records. Officials at the headquarters also analyze these data and release information on crime trends to the member countries.
An encrypted Internet-based worldwide communications network allows Interpol agents and member countries to contact each other at any time. Known as I-24/7, the network offers constant access to Interpol's databases. While the National Central Bureaus are the primary access sites to the network, some member countries have expanded it to key areas such as airports and border access points. Member countries can also access each other's criminal databases via the I-24/7 system.
In the event of an international disaster, terrorist attack, or assassination, Interpol can send an Incident Response Team (IRT). IRTs can offer a range of expertise and database access to assist with victim identification, suspect identification, and the dissemination of information to other nations' law enforcement agencies. In addition, at the request of local authorities, they can act as a central command and logistics operation to coordinate other law enforcement agencies involved in a case. Such teams were deployed eight times in 2013. Interpol began issuing its own travel documents in 2009 with hopes that nations would remove visa requirements for individuals traveling for Interpol business, thereby improving response times. In September 2017, the organization voted to accept Palestine and the Solomon Islands as members.
In 2013, Interpol's operating income was EUR78 million ($104 million), of which 68 percent was contributed by member countries, mostly in the form of statutory contributions (67 percent) and 26 percent came from externally funded projects, private foundations, and commercial enterprises. Financial income and reimbursements made up the other six percent of the total. With the goal of enhancing the collaboration between Interpol and the private sector to support Interpol's missions, the Interpol Foundation for a Safer World was created in 2013. Although legally independent of Interpol, the relationship between the two is close enough for Interpol's president to obtain in 2015 the departure of HSBC CEO from the foundation board after the Swiss Leaks allegations.
From 2004 to 2010, Interpol's external auditors was the French Court of Audit. In November 2010, the Court of Audit was replaced by the Office of the Auditor General of Norway for a three-year term with an option for a further three years.
Despite its politically neutral stance, some have criticized the agency for its role in arrests that critics contend were politically motivated. In the year 2008, the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees pointed to the problem of arrests of refugees on the request of Interpol in connection with politically motivated charges. In their declaration, adopted in Oslo (2010), Monaco (2012), Istanbul (2013), and Baku (2014), the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) criticized some OSCE member States for their abuse of mechanisms of the international investigation and urged them to support the reform of Interpol in order to avoid politically motivated prosecution. The Istanbul Declaration of the OSCE cited specific cases of such prosecution, including those of the Russian activist Petr Silaev, financier William Browder, businessman Ilya Katsnelson, Belarusian politician Ales Michalevic, and Ukrainian politician Bohdan Danylyshyn. The resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe of 31 January 2014 criticizes the mechanisms of operation of the Commission for the Control of Interpol's files, in particular, non-adversarial procedures and unjust decisions. In 2014, PACE adopted a decision to thoroughly analyse the problem of the abuse of Interpol and to compile a special report on this matter. In May 2015, within the framework of the preparation of the report, the PACE Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights organized a hearing, during which both representatives of NGOs and Interpol had the opportunity to speak.
Organizations, such as Detained in Dubai, Open Dialog Foundation,Fair Trials International,Centre for Peace Studies, and International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, indicate that non-democratic states use Interpol in order to harass opposition politicians, journalists, human rights activists, and businessmen. According to them, countries that frequently abuse the Interpol system include: China, Russia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Iran, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Tunisia.
The Open Dialog Foundation's report analysed 44 high-profile political cases which went through the Interpol system. A number of persons who have been granted refugee status in the European Union (EU) and the US, including: Russian businessman Andrey Borodin, Chechen Arbi Bugaev, Kazakh opposition politician Mukhtar Ablyazov and his associate Artur Trofimov, and Sri Lankan journalist Chandima Withana continue to remain on the public Interpol list. Some of the refugees remain on the list of Interpol even after courts have refused to extradite them to a non-democratic state (for example, Pavel Zabelin, a witness in the case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and Alexandr Pavlov, former security chief of the Kazakh oppositionist Ablyazov).
Interpol has recognized some requests to include persons on the wanted list as politically motivated, e.g., Indonesian activist Benny Wenda, Georgian politician Givi Targamadze, ex-president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili, and ex-president of Honduras Manuel Zelaya Rosales; these persons have been removed from the wanted list. However, in most cases, Interpol removes a Red Notice against refugees only after an authoritarian state closes a criminal case or declares amnesty (for example, the cases of Russian activists and political refugees Petr Silaev, Denis Solopov, and Aleksey Makarov, as well as the Turkish sociologist and feminist Pinar Selek). The election of Meng Hongwei as president and Alexander Prokopchuk, a Russian, as vice president of Interpol for Europe drew criticism in western media and raised fears of Interpol accepting politically motivated requests from China and Russia.
Refugees who are included in the list of Interpol can be arrested when crossing the border. The procedure for filing an appeal with Interpol is a long and complex one. For example, the Venezuelan journalist Patricia Poleo and a colleague of Kazakh activist Ablyazov, and Tatiana Paraskevich, who were granted refugee status, sought to overturn the politically motivated request for as long as one and a half years, and six months, respectively.
In 2013, Interpol was criticised over its multimillion-dollar deals with such private sector bodies as FIFA, Philip Morris, and the pharmaceutical industry. The criticism was mainly about the lack of transparency and potential conflicts of interest, such as Codentify.[clarification needed] After the 2015 FIFA scandal, the organization has severed ties with all the private-sector bodies that evoked such criticism, and has adopted a new and transparent financing framework.
In 2016, Taiwan criticised Interpol for turning down their application to join the General Assembly as an observer. The US supports Taiwan's participation, and the US Congress passed legislation directing the Secretary of State to develop a strategy to obtain observer status for Taiwan.
According to a report by the Stockholm Center for Freedom that was issued on September 2017, Turkey has weaponized Interpol mechanisms to hunt down legitimate critics and opponents in violation of Interpol's own constitution. The report lists abuse cases where not only arrest warrants but also revocation of travel documents and passports were used by Turkey as persecution tools against critics and opponents. The harassment campaign targeted foreign companies as well.
On 25 July 2014, despite Interpol's Constitution prohibiting them from undertaking any intervention or activities of a political or military nature, the Ukrainian nationalist paramilitary leader Dmytro Yarosh was placed on Interpol's international wanted list at the request of Russian authorities, which made him the only person wanted internationally after the beginning of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia in 2014. For a long time, Interpol refused to place former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych on the wanted list as a suspect by the new Ukrainian government for the mass killing of protesters during Euromaidan. Yanukovych was eventually placed on the wanted list on 12 January 2015. However, on 16 July 2015, after an intervention of Joseph Hage Aaronson, the British law firm hired by Yanukovych, the international arrest warrant against the former president of Ukraine was suspended pending further review. In December 2014, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) liquidated[clarification needed] a sabotage and reconnaissance group that was led by a former agent of the Ukrainian Bureau of Interpol that also has family relations in the Ukrainian counter-intelligence agencies. In 2014, Russia made attempts to place Ukrainian politician Ihor Kolomoyskyi and Ukrainian civic activist Pavel Ushevets, subject to criminal persecution in Russia following his pro-Ukrainian art performance in Moscow, on the Interpol wanted list.
After the disappearance of Meng Hongwei, four American senators accused his presumptive successor, Alexander Prokopchuk, of abusing Red Notices and compared his election to "putting a fox in charge of the henhouse". A statement posted by the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union and signed by other NGO's raised concerns about his ability to use his Interpol position to silence Russia's critics. Russian politicians criticised the US political activity and called it interference: "This is interference in the election process of sorts, in the election to an international organisation. What else can you call it? This is a vivid example." Russian Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
From 1-3 July 2015, Interpol organized a session of the Working Group on the Processing of Information, which was formed specifically in order to verify the mechanisms of information processing. The Working Group heard the recommendations of civil society as regards the reform of the international investigation system and promised to take them into account, in light of possible obstruction or refusal to file crime reports nationally.
The Open Dialog Foundation, a human rights organization, recommended that Interpol, in particular: create mechanism for the protection of rights of people having international refugee status; initiate closer cooperation of the Commission for the Control of Files with human rights NGOs and experts on asylum and extradition; enforce sanctions for violations of Interpol's rules; strengthen cooperation with NGOs, the UN, OSCE, the PACE, and the European Parliament.
Fair Trials International proposed to create effective remedies for individuals who are wanted under a Red Notice on unfair charges; to penalize nations which frequently abuse the Interpol system; to ensure more transparency of Interpol's work.
The Centre for Peace Studies also created recommendations for Interpol, in particular to delete Red Notices and Diffusions for people who were granted refugee status according to 1951 Refugee Convention issued by their countries of origin, and to establish an independent body to review Red Notices on a regular basis.
The current emblem of Interpol was adopted in 1950 and includes the following elements:
Membership as of March 2018 as well as the corresponding representative entity of the nation are as follows:, with acceptance date
In addition to its General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, Interpol maintains seven regional bureaus and three special representative offices:
Interpol's Command and Coordination Centres offer a 24-hour point of contact for national police forces seeking urgent information or facing a crisis. The original is in Lyon with a second in Buenos Aires added in September 2011. A third was opened in Singapore in September 2014.
The organization has constructed the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI) in Singapore to act as its research and development facility, and a place of cooperation on digital crimes investigations. It was officially opened in April 2015, but had already become active beforehand. Most notably, a worldwide takedown of the SIMDA botnet infrastructure was coordinated and executed from IGCI's Cyber Fusion Centre in the weeks before the opening, as was revealed at the launch event.
Secretaries-general since organization's inception in 1923:
|No.||Secretaries-general||Took office||Left office||Time in office||Nationality|
|1||Oskar Dressler||1923||1946||22-23 years||Austria|
|2||Louis Ducloux||1946||1951||4-5 years||France|
|3||Marcel Sicot||1951||1963||11-12 years||France|
|4||Jean Népote||1963||26 October 1978||14-15 years||France|
|5||André Bossard||October 1978||October 1985||7 years||France|
|October 1985||2 October 2000||15 years||United Kingdom|
|3 November 2000||7 November 2014||14 years||United States|
|7 November 2014||Incumbent||4 years||Germany|
Presidents since organization's inception in 1923:
|Country of origin||Name||In office|
|UK||Sir Richard Jackson||1960-1963|
|West Germany||Paul Dickopf||1968-1972|
|Canada||William Leonard Higgitt||1972-1976|
|Spain||Jesús Espigares Mira||2000-2004|
|South Africa||Jackie Selebi||2004-2008|
|Chile||Arturo Herrera Verdugo||2008 (acting)|
|Singapore||Khoo Boon Hui||2008-2012|
|South Korea||Kim Jong Yang||2018-present|