Stevenson detention ‘an abuse of his rights’
A Czech court has ruled that the detention of a former Bermuda resident last year was a violation of human rights.Alan Stevenson, who worked in IT at HSBC from the mid to late 2000s, was held in the country for 4½ months over an alleged credit card debt in the Middle East.Radha Stirling, Mr Stevenson’s lawyer and the founder and chief executive of London-based Detained in Dubai, said he was a victim of “abuse” of international police agency Interpol’s arrest-warrant system over a debt with the Qatar National Bank he insisted he had not incurred.She added that “no evidence was produced or provided to the Czech courts” to back up an extradition request from Qatar. Ms Stirling said: “Alan Stevenson’s case should be a watershed moment for Interpol reform and human rights compliance.“Alan’s case is emblematic of what has been happening with ever greater frequency from the Gulf states. “Interpol has been hijacked by authoritarian regimes around the world who abuse the red notice system to persecute political opponents, dissidents, independent journalists, and private individuals over financial disputes.”Ms Stirling said that countries such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates led the world in wrongful “red notice” requests for debt collection, which was an abuse of Interpol rules.Mr Stevenson worked as an IT manager in Doha in 2013 and opened a bank account with the Qatar National Bank.The bank required him to submit a blank cheque as collateral against the card to be used to cover any outstanding balance if he ever failed to pay.He claimed he left Qatar with a zero balance. He was en route from his home country, Australia, last year to visit his sick mother in Britain and was arrested in Prague on June 2. He was released from prison last October and his mother died on the same day. Ms Stirling said: “Law enforcement officials around the world comply with red notices because of their relationship with Interpol, not because of their relationships with the countries requesting the notices — so, like in Alan’s case, people get detained very often without evidence, simply on the basis of a country’s respect for Interpol.”Mr Stevenson, a dual British-Australian citizen, said: “It just confirms what I knew all along,” adding that he was “honoured” to have Ms Stirling “fighting in my corner”.The Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic ruled that Mr Stevenson’s detention was a violation of his rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Mr Stevenson said conditions in Prague’s Pankrac prison, where he was held, were “deplorable”.He added that he was kept on 23-hour-a-day lockdown and his weight had dropped by 44lbs.Ms Stirling said she planned to achieve not only justice and restitution for Mr Stevenson, but also fundamental changes in how Interpol dealt with abusers of the system and authoritarian member governments with a record of human rights violations. She added: “Extradition to countries like the UAE, Qatar, Iran, China, Russia, and so on, should be unthinkable.“Their human rights records are abysmal and their legal systems are starkly below international standards of due process. “Yet, they remain eligible for requesting red notices, even while in many cases, extradition will mean unjust detention, torture, and potentially death. “The stakes are so high, but Interpol has no measures in place to vet requests. “If Interpol reforms, the residual impact could potentially incentivise countries to improve human rights conditions, due process standards, and governmental reforms around the world.”Interpol and the Qatari Government did not respond to requests for comment.• It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any libellous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.