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Opinion

Way to go, Interpol

China's Vice Minister of Public Security Meng Hongwei

China's Vice Minister of Public Security Meng Hongwei delivers a campaign speech at the general assembly of the International Criminal Police Organization in Bali, Indonesia, Nov. 10, 2016. Photo Credit: AP / Xinhua News Agency

I’ve written on how it would be a mistake for Interpol to admit the Palestinian Authority as a member. It’s now been widely reported that Interpol rejected the Palestinian bid. That, unfortunately, is not the whole truth.

First, a quick refresher on Interpol. Everything you have seen about Interpol in the movies is wrong. It doesn’t run round the world arresting people. It promotes cooperation among police agencies around the world by running what is basically a bulletin board for wanted notices.

But this isn’t just any bulletin board. If you are put on it, normal life is over. You can’t travel, your bank accounts will be closed, and you may be arrested, or even extradited.

Like the UN, Interpol includes almost every nation in the world. And like the UN, it has a General Assembly. Unlike the UN, though, it doesn’t have a Security Council: the Assembly is the final authority. It does, though, have a 13 member executive committee that supervises its direction.

At its latest meeting, the General Assembly voted four new members to the executive committee. That’s where the trouble starts. The new president of the committee is Meng Hongwei, the vice minister of public security in China.

In other words, he’s in charge of enforcing the world’s biggest police state, a police state with a history of abusing Interpol for its own purposes.

The identity of another one of the new committee members hasn’t received as much publicity. He’s Alexander Prokopchuk, a Russian police major general, and the head of Russia’s National Central Bureau, which handles Russia’s communications with Interpol.

In a way, the election of Prokopchuk is even worse than that of Hongwei, for Russia is an even more grotesque abuser of Interpol than China. It has repeatedly sought to use Interpol against investors it has robbed, and dissidents who dared to stand up to Vladimir Putin’s thuggish, thieving regime.

In January, for example, Nikita Kulachenkov, a Russian accountant, was arrested in Cyprus, at the behest of Russia. His supposed crime? The theft of a piece of street art valued at $1.55. His real crime, in Putin’s eyes? Working for Alexei Navalny, one of Putin’s bravest opponents.

Prokopchuk, as the man who leads Russia’s liaison with Interpol, is personally responsible for the abuse. No one in the world had more direct responsibility to stop it. Instead, he facilitated the abuse, and he has been rewarded with a position of power in the organization he perverted.

And then there are the Palestinians. Their application wasn’t refused: it was postponed, and the job of setting criteria for membership of Interpol handed over to Hans Corell, a Swedish lawyer and diplomat.

He has promoted arguments that, because Israel has a missile defense system, it should tolerate Hamas’ missile attacks. He’s aligned himself with calls for the prosecution of U.S. officials before international tribunals, and demanded that the U.S. “subject” itself to the International Criminal Court.

And, while he’s relaxed that China’s not a democracy, he’s unhappy about the United States, where, as he said in 2015, “the level of ignorance sometimes frightens me.” For much of Corell’s career, he has been a cheerleader for international courts and for international civil servants. That is a model that has no bearing on Interpol, which is by and for nation states.

It tells you a lot about the way Interpol and the world are going that its meeting in 2017 will take place in Beijing. That is where Corell will make his report. For Israel’s sake, and for Interpol’s, I hope that, over the next twelve months, the United States makes it clear that there is no place in Interpol for the terrorist-sponsoring, lawless regime of the Palestinian Authority.

Ted R. Bromund is a senior research fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Thatcher Center for Freedom.

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