INTERPOL, whose full name is the International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO) – INTERPOL, is an organization facilitating international police cooperation. It was established as the International Criminal Police Commission (ICPC) in 1923 and adopted its telegraphic address as its common name in 1956.
Its membership of 190 countries provides finance of around €59 million through annual contributions. The organization’s headquarters is in Lyon, France. It is the second largest intergovernmental organization after the United Nations, in terms of number of member states.
Its current Secretary-General is Ronald Noble, a former United States Under Secretary of the Treasury for Enforcement. Its current President is Singapore’s Senior Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs and former Commissioner of Police Khoo Boon Hui; the President before that, Jackie Selebi, National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, held his term from 2004 till his resignation on 13 January 2008, after which he was charged in South Africa on three counts of corruption and one of defeating the course of justice, and replaced by Arturo Herrera Verdugo, current National Commissioner of Investigations Police of Chile and former vice president for the American Zone, who remained acting president until the organization meeting in October 2008.
In order to maintain as politically neutral a role as possible, Interpol’s constitution forbids it to undertake any interventions or activities of a political, military, religious, or racial nature. Its work focuses primarily on public safety, terrorism, organized crime, crimes against humanity, environmental crime, genocide, war crimes, piracy, illicit drug production, drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering, child pornography, white-collar crime, computer crime, intellectual property crime and corruption.
In 2008, the Interpol General Secretariat employed a staff of 588, representing 84 member countries. The Interpol public website received an average of 2.2 million page visits every month. Interpol issued 3,126 red notices for the year 2008 which led to the arrest of 718 people.
Despite its stance of political neutrality, the agency has been criticized for its role in some arrests which critics contend have been politically motivated, such as the arrest of Saudi journalist Hamza Kashgari by Malaysian police on February 9, 2012 for allegedly insulting Muhammad and his subsequent deportation to Saudi Arabia on February 12, 2012, where he may face the death penalty over charges of apostasy due to these alleged insults. Interpol, however, later denied its involvement in the arrest, notwithstanding the Malaysian police’s assertion to the contrary.