[Sansad TV] Perspective: Interpol- Secure World & Global Responsibility

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Context

  • A safe and a secure world is a shared responsibility. When threats like terrorism, drug trafficking, corruption and organized crime are global, the response to them cannot just be local.  
  • That was PM Modi’s emphasis at the 90th Interpol General Assembly, recently held in New Delhi.
  • Interpol will turn 100 next year. Now is the time to calibrate to counter emergent challenges.

What is INTERPOL?

  • The Interpol, or International Criminal Police Organization, is an inter-governmental organization comprising 195 member countries, which helps police forces in all these countries to better coordinate their actions.
  • It was set up in 1923 by 19 countries in the wake of an urgent need to facilitate cooperation between police across borders.
  • It enables member countries to share and access data on crimes and criminals and offers a range of technical and operational support.
  • It is run by a secretary general with its headquarters in Lyon, France, with a global complex for innovation in Singapore, and several satellite offices in different regions.
  • India accepted Interpol membership in June 1956.
  • The General Assembly is the apex governing body of Interpol that meets every year to discuss its functioning.

Key functions of INTERPOL

  • Global police-level cooperation: Interpol is a global organisation that provides a platform for cooperation between the police forces of various member countries even between countries that do not have existing diplomatic relations.
  • Database of crime and criminals: It also manages databases with information on crimes and criminals which are accessible in real-time to member countries.
  • Investigative and training support: It lends investigative and training support such as forensics, analysis, and assistance in locating fugitives around the world.
  • Combating global crimes: Interpol also plays a key role in combating crimes across three global areas namely terrorism, cybercrime and organized crime which pose a significant threat in the current era.

Key challenges to global security

  • At present countries across the world are facing unprecedented complexity in the criminal threat landscape with threats including-
  • Cybercrime
  • Cross-border terrorism
  • Drug trafficking and
  • Women and child sexual abuse

All these crimes are interlinked. Here is how?

  • Mixed nature of crime: Transnational organised crime continues to thrive due to illicit networks that operate on the strength of money laundering.
  • Radicalization: In recent years, terrorism is not only spreading in physical space but has started spreading its presence through online radicalization and cyber threats.
  • Financial crimes: Corruption and money laundering threaten people in every aspect of their lives across the world. So are the payment frauds.
  • Environmental crime: This includes illicit cross-border trade in wildlife.

Why need INTERPOL?

  • Rising criminality has caused law enforcement to come under strain.  
  • In a democratic polity, police forces have to act with restraint, within the boundaries of legal procedures.
  • Lawbreakers enjoy the ease of mobility and access to the internet. There is no diminishing trend of these threats within sight.

How is INTERPOL equipped to curb transnational crimes?

  • Interpol uses 19 databases and tools for issuing alerts, sharing information about criminals and their modus operandi.
  • It has a huge repository of fingerprints, DNA profiles, facial recognition kits, cyber-enabled financial crimes, and property crimes, among others.
  • Providing information about crime and criminals in the digital space, preventing abuse of cyberspace and stalling hackers on the dark web are areas where Interpol’s global security architecture is used.
  • Interpol issues colour-coded notices of various hues — red, yellow, blue, black, orange, green and purple.

INTERPOL and India

  • A large number of red corner notices have been issued at the request of Indian law enforcement, resulting in the detention of several accused and convicted fugitives.
  • India, as one of the oldest and strongest members of Interpol, has been involved in productive engagements over the years.
  • Several operations have been undertaken by the CBI with Interpol.

Limitations of INTERPOL

  • Vague composition: In its composition, Interpol is like the UN. But it is not meant for dispute resolution. It is designed to assist the police forces of member nations.
  • Not a policing body: Interpol is neither an investigative agency like the CBI nor a front-line police force.
  • Assistive role: It is mandated to share information and provide back-end technical assistance to law enforcement agencies.
  • Not an independent organization: Interpol action against notorious fugitives is consequential upon commensurate action from member nations where the fugitives might be seeking shelter.
  • More of a bilateral tool: Interpol cannot act on its own. The desired legal course of action depends on bilateral arrangements like mutual legal assistance treaties.

How can India leverage INTERPOLs benefit?

  • India becoming the fifth-largest economy in the world, and on the path to becoming the third-largest in the near future.
  • The country has created a positive impact by bringing down terrorist-related violence.
  • Moreover, India is now an acknowledged technology powerhouse.
  • This demographic dividend of a large and young technology-oriented workforce in startups can be utilised for upgrading the security architecture.
  • Indian skill development resources through capacity building programmes run by the CBI training academy are used periodically by the international police fraternity.

Way forward

  • There should be close collaboration between global security organisations such as the Interpol, United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
  • It is important that these security organisations reposition their strategies in line with the realities of the current century and the latest advancements.
  • In this context, India must push for the establishment of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) which was proposed by India in 1996.
  • It is time for Indian coaxial engagements with Interpol and other member nations to accelerate further, both bilaterally and multilaterally.

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