In 2018, the tragic series of events in Salisbury revealed the deadly armoury deployed by authoritarian regimes to persecute its nationals abroad and its detrimental impact on the rule of law. The term “transnational repression” refers to actions authorised by governments and their security and intelligence services against their nationals, political challengers, civil society activists and journalists residing abroad.
These extraterritorial acts of repression were known before. However, with the process of globalisation and digitalisation, these actions have moved to a new level. Since 2014, human rights NGOs have reported over 600 cases of transnational repressions that include assassinations, violence, disappearances, forced abductions and actions to destabilise exiled communities abroad.
New transnational repression is taking place more openly in an international environment where liberal democratic norms are weakening. Autocrats are actively co-operating with one another and learning how to successfully use ICT tools and repurpose international institutions to avoid international scrutiny and accountability for human rights abuses. Frequently, it is in co-operation between the security services of a host country and a country of origin to deny exiles due process that would determine eligibility for political asylum. It is appalling that countries can abuse their access to Interpol to issue bogus notices with the intent to repress dissent against their regime.
Transnational repression is a growing threat to democracy and human rights. Authoritarian regimes are developing new tools of repression. Therefore, the Parliamentary Assembly must carefully investigate this phenomenon and the consequences of these methods of deterrence for the Council of Europe and its member States, and call for an end to such practices