Executive Committee unanimously affirms INTERPOL’s report on seized FARC computers and highlights its long history of impartiality

25 June 2008

LYON, France - INTERPOL’s singular capacity to provide independent, expert law enforcement assistance in international investigations is being increasingly recognised and called into action by the United Nations, other international bodies and our member countries throughout the world.

For the first time, in 2005, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution that specifically mentioned areas in which INTERPOL could play a vital role in the global anti-terrorism effort. UN international criminal tribunals have turned to INTERPOL for help in locating and arresting fugitives wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. INTERPOL experts have also been enlisted to assist independent commissions set up by the UN to investigate the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and alleged corruption related to the UN’s oil-for-food programme.

The G8 Justice and Interior Ministers, at their meeting from 11-13 June 2008 in Tokyo, highlighted INTERPOL’s enhanced ability to provide its member countries with the tools necessary to fight serious transnational crime in the 21st century.  Russia, in particular, spoke in favor of many of the positive developments benefiting all INTERPOL member countries under Secretary General Ronald K. Noble’s leadership. Similarly, for its security preparations for the Olympics, China has repeatedly referred to the significant role that INTERPOL has played and will play in helping it to host a safe and secure 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

INTERPOL has maintained its independence at various times recently when taking decisions or providing technical expertise in matters that invited partisan political criticism. When INTERPOL insisted that all of our member countries, including those subject to UN and other sanctions such as Cuba, Iran, Libya and Syria, be equipped with the same state-of-the-art and secure police communications system, some countries criticised us. When INTERPOL honoured a democratically taken decision by our European member countries to hold our regional conference in Belarus, it did so despite the forced boycott of that meeting by police from European Union member countries and strong criticism by the United States. INTERPOL and its member countries supported Israel’s desire to relocate from the Asian region to the European region because of its closer law enforcement ties to that region.

As members of INTERPOL’s Executive Committee elected to represent INTERPOL’s four working regions and 186 member countries, we recognise that periodically there are issues that divide our member countries. We also recognise that those divisions cannot and will not be allowed to cloud the integrity, impartiality or transparency of INTERPOL’s assistance to its member countries.

Unfortunately, there currently exists such a situation among some of our South American member countries related to the seizure of FARC computers and hardware by Colombia on 1 March 2008 and INTERPOL’s subsequent computer forensic examination and comprehensive report. INTERPOL’s report found that there had been no alteration or manipulation of any of the data contained in the user files of those computer exhibits following their seizure by Colombian authorities.

In our oversight role concerning the activities of INTERPOL’s General Secretariat, we have had an opportunity to review INTERPOL’s Forensic Report on FARC computers and hardware seized by Colombia, and we have received a detailed briefing on INTERPOL’s work that led to the publication of this report. Based on careful consideration of all relevant information, we endorse INTERPOL’s report and its findings in their entirety.

INTERPOL’s work in this matter was completely consistent with its Constitution, rules and regulations. Politics played no role whatsoever in INTERPOL’s determination that the eight computer exhibits seized by Colombia came from a FARC camp and had belonged to Raúl Reyes, and that the user files contained therein were not altered, modified or tampered with by Colombian authorities.

We thank the Organization of American States for its co-operation and appreciate OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza’s endorsement of INTERPOL’s findings in their entirety, as well as the comments of the European Union’s High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, who called INTERPOL’s report “good news.”

We also commend INTERPOL’s Secretary General, the General Secretariat staff and the independent computer forensic experts who conducted the examination for the thoroughness and impartiality of their work. We find very unfortunate the criticisms and personal attacks against INTERPOL made by Ecuadorian and Venezuelan government officials.