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Interpol: Who polices the world’s police?

The controversial arrest of German author Dogan Akhanli by Spanish authorities on an Interpol warrant issued by Turkey has triggered questions about the international policing agency’s modus operandi.

A dimly-lit street, rain glistening off the cobbles. A man in a long overcoat, collar turned up, takes a furtive look and a last drag of his cigarette before melting into the shadows. Okay, so maybe I’ve watched too many spy movies, but it’s the kind of scene that springs to mind when you hear or read the words International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol).

The concept of an international policing organization first popped up in April 1914, at the First International Congress of Judicial Police in Monaco. Leading criminal investigators were frustrated that criminals were increasingly able to evade capture by simply leaving the country, taking advantage of the burgeoning “progress of automobilism, even aviation.” A global approach to tackle the problem was needed: “The internationalism of crime should be opposed by the internationalism of repression.”


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