Puigdemont Case Highlights Concern Over Surging Interpol Arrests

Rebel, critic or terrorist? A rise in European arrest warrants and Interpol notices is not only a sign of increased international police cooperation, it can also be an example of abuse of political power.

Original source: DW.com

Germany has found itself at the center of a conflict that blurs the line between police investigation and political persecution. Carles Puigdemont, the leader of the Catalan independence movement, is the most prominent man with a European arrest warrant out in his name.

His recent release from German detention shows just how quickly the implementation of a European arrest warrant can turn political, especially when the crimes listed on the warrant do not exist in the country where an arrest is made — in this case, Germany.

German politicians have hotly debated Puigdemont’s extradition, and the Spanish government has grudgingly accepted the decision of a German court to release him on bail.

“A European arrest warrant is supposed to ensure that criminals cannot escape justice by crossing borders. At the same time, it is supposed to protect the rights of concerned parties across the EU,” explains Ralph Bunche, director of Fair Trials, a nongovernmental organization that follows police investigations around the world. Bunche says it is not clear if that has been the case with Puigdemont.

Ever more arrest warrants

The European arrest warrant, which was introduced in 2004, is viewed by law enforcement authorities as a helpful tool for pursuing organized crime across borders. The number of those warrants issued has risen rapidly since their introduction, from 6,894 in 2005 to 16,144 in 2015. As a consequence, the international law enforcement agency Interpol has become unintentionally political at times due to its “red notices.” The term denotes a request made to Interpol to “determine the location of a particular person and provisionally arrest them”

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