Steven Williams

[2018] British father of 3 Steven Williams from Wales, is stuck in Mallorca, Spain pending extradition proceedings to Qatar over an outstanding debt, despite having made consistent monthly payments. If Steven is sent to Qatar, he could face decades in prison.

Like the UAE, Qatar has been increasingly misusing Interpol as an instrument for debt collection, though the international policing organisation has no remit to intervene in private civil disputes.

Radha Stirling, a leading expert on legal issues in the Middle East, extradition and CEO of Detained in Dubai & Detained in Doha, said, “It is absolutely astonishing that Interpol has not responded to calls for checks and balances to be placed on member countries when they list someone on the database.” She said that Middle Eastern countries have long been abusing their membership with Interpol by misreporting debt under the category of fraud for the purpose of using the international organisation as their own personal debt collectors. “The threat of Interpol is used by Middle Eastern banks against customers to try to add pressure on them to settle their debts, without resorting to normal collection or bankruptcy procedures.” Read more at the Detained in Dubai Blog

Stirling notes that Interpol’s own financial dependence on Gulf funding may be a factor in the perpetuation of abuse. “The UAE and Qatar are the leading financial contributors to Interpol and it is no wonder that both of these countries are also the biggest abusers of their membership. Interpol seems unwilling to insist that these countries abide by the membership rules, presumably in case it affects their source of funding.