The INTERPOL General Assembly met in Beijing for a four-day conference, which concluded today and convened as many as 1,000 senior law enforcement officials as well as government ministers from a total of 156 countries. The General Assembly is the chief governing body of INTERPOL, whose mission is to serve as “the natural custodian of global law enforcement interests”.
According to an INTERPOL media release, one of the outcomes of the conference was to adopt a policy on data processing on refugees, with the primary purpose of preventing criminals and terrorists from abusing refugee status. This resolution was overwhelmingly approved by delegates at the convention, and puts forth a series of measures that member countries would be required to enforce during the asylum application process. This would involve “systematically checking INTERPOL’s databases”, as well as using and expanding access to the INTERPOL Information System so that all relevant authorities can more easily exchange information.
The policy also asks that member countries inform either INTERPOL’s General Secretariat headquarters or the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files when “an individual has been granted refugee status” as well as “on the outcome of an asylum application review”. This requirement corresponds to the national laws and confidentiality requirements that the General Assembly already has in place.
Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL’s Secretary General, is confident that this resolution will help maintain a balance between improving international police cooperation and improving safeguards to ensure the protection of the rights of refugees. It also serves to formalize a policy set forth by INTERPOL’s Executive Committee in June 2014 that has already “been applied to the processing of Red Notices and diffusions against refugees”. Finally, it directly relates to the United Nations Security Council resolutions that encourage countries to take action to safeguard refugee status against abuse “by the perpetrators, organizers or facilitators of terrorist acts”.
The conference concluded with the delegates reaffirming their support for INTERPOL’s seven global policing goals for 2030. These key security topics involve countering terrorism, promoting border integrity, protecting vulnerable communities, securing cyberspace, promoting global integrity, curbing illicit markets, and supporting environmental security. Secretary General Stock closed the conference with a call for a united effort to address these evolving security threats, which is needed now more than ever.