Congressman Cohen Introduces the Transnational Repression Accountability and Prevention (TRAP) Act

July 29, 2021
Press Release
Aim is to end INTERPOL abuse by autocrats seeking to silence dissent

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), the Co-Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, today introduced the Transnational Repression Accountability and Prevention (TRAP) Act along with Ranking Member Congressman Joe Wilson (SC-02). This bill is intended to end abuse of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) by autocrats misusing its detention mechanisms to pursue, harass, or persecute political opponents and dissidents with trumped up criminal charges.


Congressman Cohen made the following statement:


“Using the legal system and INTERPOL to harass political opponents is becoming far too common. Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Turkey frequently issue meritless INTERPOL requests that violate key provisions of INTERPOL’s Constitution, subjecting international travelers to unnecessary inconvenience. The TRAP Act cracks down on the misuse of these tools to prevent autocrats from harassing their own citizens overseas.”

Commissioner Wilson made the following statement:

“Dictators are increasingly pursuing political opponents and dissidents across borders. Through surveillance, harassment, and even assassination, these autocrats are attempting to build a world safe for authoritarianism—where speaking out against brutal regimes might destroy your life. It is imperative that we fight back. INTERPOL abuse is one of the worst forms of this transnational repression and I am pleased to introduce the TRAP Act with other Helsinki Commission leaders to curb it.”

The Transnational Repression Accountability and Prevention (TRAP) Act responds to the emerging threat of transnational repression by:

  • Establishing priorities for the U.S. in responding to INTERPOL abuse and promoting reform within INTERPOL; 
  • Identifying areas for improvement in the U.S. government’s response to INTERPOL abuse; and 
  • Protecting the U.S. judicial system from the influence of abusive INTERPOL notices.