The International Criminal Police




Author: Paul Marabuto
Pages: 3 to 15
Creation Date: 1951/01/01

The International Criminal Police

Commission and the Illicit Traffic of Narcotics

Paul Marabuto

Representative of the ICPC at the fifth session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs

The question of suppressing the illicit traffic in narcotic drugs raises various problems on the international plane for the police forces of many countries. To solve these problems, the experience of an international organization of a technical character is of course a great asset. The ICPC, of which thirty-nine nations are members, is the most important among international police institutions. Its original files contain more than 60,000 individual index cards of international criminals. The following article gives an idea of the nature and functions of this organization

I. How the Idea of International Police Co-operation Germinated and was Carried into Effect

When, in modern times, the question of repression on an international scale arose, two main problems preoccupied the jurists: the unification of international penal law, and extradition. These two preoccupations were inspired by an important principle: the universality of the right to punish, which aims at reaching the malefactor wherever he may be.

Numerous juridical conferences have been held for the purpose of making penal law uniform. Results have been obtained, but we are far from having achieved this unification. The diversity of national legislations is still considerable, both from the point of view of principles and practice.

In this same spirit and parallel to this work of unification, the practice of extradition became generalized. The number of extradition treaties increased in order to check the concept of the right of sanctuary in crimes under the ordinary law and especially in order to pursue the malefactor in his last places of refuge.

Thus, on the one hand, the unification of penal law has not yet been accomplished in a satisfactory way, and on the other, the procedure of extradition encounters difficulties of interpretation and, above all, such tardy progress is incompatible with the development of law against international crime.

Therefore, in the words of a great criminalist: "The internationalism of crime should be opposed by the internationalism of repression."[1]

During all this time, there is a recrudescence of criminality and this progression is encouraged by the development of means of locomotion which are steadily increasing: it takes on an international character, owing to the fact that criminal activity is widespread.

"The increasing facilities of communications, the progress of automobilism, even aviation, have put at the disposal of malefactors a great many means of crossing frontiers which enable them to escape from national police investigations."[2]

"The frontier thus becomes an unsurmountable barrier for the police official and the safety plank for the criminal."[3]

* * *

It was in this atmosphere that the idea of international police co-operation germinated, based on the principle of an exchange of documentation and the cohesion of all forces in the search and pursuit of international malefactors.

It was noticed, indeed, at all the above-mentioned conferences, at penal law congresses and penitentiary congresses, that there were the same gaps, viz., the lack of facilities for the collection and exchange of information and statistics relative to criminals.

The question of closer surveillance of the activities of international criminals and the establishment of more efficient means of opposing them, was put on the agenda of numerous international conferences. Whilst the departments of foreign affairs of the different countries drew up extradition treaties, penitentiary congresses met in order to examine another aspect of this problem. The first of these conferences took place in Frankfort (Germany), in 1845, and others followed at various intervals until 1930, at which date the last congress was held in Prague.

The Institute of International Legislation had, meanwhile, examined the question on several occasions from the legislative aspect.

But at all these conferences the same defects mentioned above were noticed. However, two attempts were made to fill in these gaps.

In 1904, France took the initiative with a view to an international arrangement, aiming at a more efficient repression of the white-slave trade, the creation in each country of a central office and also the establishment of relations with these organizations for the exchange of all information relative to the white-slave traffic.

In 1910, a second Convention concerning obscene publications recommended also the setting up of central offices.

* * *

The police had to extend the principle of centralization to all international crime and to undertake a truly efficacious work. It was at this period that the international police came into being.

In April 1914, the First International Congress of Judicial Police was held in the Principality of Monaco. Mr. Larnaude, Dean of the Paris Law School, was president. Eminent police officials and jurists furnished the support of their high authority, by pooling their technical knowledge and experience, in order to accomplish a work of solidarity.

The task of this Congress was indicated by the opinions expressed during their work:

"The International Judicial Police Congress expresses the wish to see direct official contacts between the police forces of the different countries generalized and improved so as to enable investigations of a nature to facilitate the action of penal justice."

At these police meetings twenty-four countries were represented, belonging not only to Europe, but also to America (Brazil, Cuba, Guatemala, San Salvador) and to Asia (Turkey, Persia). The Congress was attended by 300 persons.

The aim, according to the speech made by Mr. Larnaude, was "to facilitate and make more rapid the arrests of criminals wherever they were".

The following questions were on the agenda: extradition, improvement of the identification system, international criminal records, questions relating to police technique.

Unfortunately, the war in 1914 disorganized these efforts. The absence of normal relations until 1918 and the defence of national safety prevented the continuation of a work devoted to general welfare. Therefore, the police congress which should have taken place in 1916 in Bucarest, could not be held.

The outbreak of war had, however, a favourable influence; by rendering communications between nations slower and more complicated and by tightening up regulations, it subjected the movements of criminals to strict control which hindered their traffic considerably.

This traffic came back to normal after the war, with greater intensity owing to the fact that during this troubled period there had been numerous new inventions which had increased facilities for travelling and correspondence.

Thus the impulsion given to the Congress of Monaco, had been only temporarily broken. A work commenced under good auspices could not remain unaccomplished.

About ten years later, a second International Judicial Police Conference was held in Vienna, on the initiative of Mr. Hans Schober, President of the Police.

From then on, the international police under this great chief received an impulsion quite special, thanks to the creation of a new organization: the International Criminal Police Commission. This creation marked the beginning of the truly active phase, for this department was to maintain this activity in its relations with the various national police departments.

It was in this town that the head office of ICPC was located.

The Commission gave a profound and lasting impulsion to the international services in the struggle against common law crimes.

A whole organization was formed and developed, to which were added numerous services, in particular the International Bureau, which is a central organization for police documentation.

In 1938, the institutions were in full development and the International Criminal Police Commission had already held fourteen sessions, when the Second World War broke out and interrupted their good work.

II. The ICPC and the Organizations belonging to it

The International Criminal Police Commission is the most important organ of international police institutions. In addition to the active members delegated and appointed by various governments, there are also members appointed either because of eminent services rendered to the Commission, or in consideration of their technical or scientific knowledge. It is presided over by Mr. Louwage, Inspector General of the Belgian Surete Department, and has seven vice-presidents.

Its creation dates from the Second Judicial Police Congress, held in Vienna in 1923, by virtue of the following resolution:

"Considering the fact that the struggle against international criminality cannot be successfully accomplished without the close co-operation of the police services of all civilized States, the International Police Congress held in Vienna, decides upon the creation of an International Criminal Police Commission which should immediately start to function."

The head office which was before the war in Vienna was transferred in 1946 to Paris, where the International Bureau is also situated. It took up its activities again at the Congress of Brussels (1946).

The mission of the ICPC has two objects: it is entrusted with co-ordinating efforts in view of the struggle against criminality and, in addition, has the task of creating and developing services likely to efficiently assist this struggle.

It is clearly specified in article I of the statutes:

"The purpose of the International Criminal Police Commission is to ensure and officially promote the growth of the greatest possible mutual assistance between all criminal police authorities within the limits of the laws existing in the different States, to establish and develop all institutions likely to contribute to an efficient repression of common law crimes and offences, to the strict exclusion of all matters having a political, religious or racial character."

To assist it in its task, it is aided by an executive committee composed of three general reporters and a Secretary-General. It is an organ of control entrusted with seeing to the execution of all measures adopted by the Assembly, ensuring the functioning of the International Bureau and the preparation of the annual sessions.

It can have recourse to a meeting of reporters among the members of the Commission for the examination of the questions submitted to the Assembly and the elaboration of the reports relative thereto.

The ICPC has met seventeen times since its creation. These meetings take place about every year in a different town.

A number of sub-committees are constituted for the purpose of preparing the study of the problems to which the attention of police officials is drawn during the general assemblies or to facilitate their solution. In this way there are, at the present time, the following subcommittees:

Sub-Committee on Telecommunications

Sub-Committee on Juvenile Delinquency

Sub-Committee on Counterfeiting

Sub-Committee on Statistics

Sub-Committee on Air Police

Sub-Committee on Drugs

Sub-Committee on Scientific and Technical Police

At the head of each sub-committee is an eminent person of the ICPC and its members are chosen from among the other delegates having special competency in the various questions.

Their work is continuous throughout the year and each may meet when it is felt urgent to do so in order to exchange essential points of view.

There are, at the present time, thirty-nine member States of the ICPC:

Great Britain
Trieste (Anglo-American Zone)
Union of South Africa
Germany (Interallied Zones)
The Netherlands & her possessions


The International Bureau is the kingpin of the international police institutions. As the executive organ, it is entrusted with the application of the decisions taken during the plenary assemblies, of which it also ensures the preparation (article 2 of the statutes).

It is the hinge which articulates the reception and the transmitting of information concerning international malefactors, for one of the most concrete acts of this co-operation is the exchange of documents between the national offices relative to wanted individual or those to be arrested.

Thus it spins the web in which the international malefactor will inevitably become entangled, wherever he may be. Methodical investigations on a universal scale will not lose any time in finding him whilst waiting for the procedure of extradition to start.

Its organization is well worth a little study.

Under the direction of Mr. Ducloux, Secretary-General of the ICPC, it groups a personnel specialized in legal and technical questions and records. It also has translators who are indispensable for the work connected with are destined. for different countries the International Review and for the instructions which are destined for different countries.

With regard to the installation, the International Bureau possesses a section for individual files and criminal documentation. It is fitted up according to the most modern technique.

The General Secretariat of the ICPC has endeavoured to recover the records of the former headquarters in Vienna, which in 1940 were transferred to Berlin by the Germans.

An effort was made to reconstitute the old repertories of international malefactors.

This documentation was established in order to get together as much information as possible relative to identification and inquiries, as also in order to make up for the defects resulting from the lack of elements of identity by creating special files based on morphological peculiarities, and on the speciality of offences, so as to obtain a rational filing system having the greatest value with regard to identification and offering the best guarantees of authenticity.

Several files, therefore, have been constituted with this object:

  1. General alphabetical index cards on which all the individuals reported are recorded;

  2. Phonetic index cards which complete the former and the purpose of which is to make good the errors or insufficiencies of spelling. This type of index is very important, for in relations with foreign countries, the consonance of the name plays an important role in the writing of surnames. These index cards correspond to individual files, classified numerically and according to the year, which contain all the elements of information concerning wanted individuals or subjects of inquiries. Up to the present time about 60,000 cards have been put in the files since the reconstitution of the International Bureau; this figure has been doubled during the last two years;

  3. A ten-fingerprint file, which includes all the individuals reported to the ICPC, classified according to the Galton-Henry system. The latter is based on the seriation of fingerprints in four categories, according to the pattern;

  4. The single-fingerprint file, namely, a classification finger by finger. In principle this file only includes those malefactors guilty of very serious crimes. When a fragment of a papillary trace is found on the scene of a crime, a comparison is made between this fragment and the print in the file in which the card has only the imprint of one finger. The practical interest of this single fingerprint comparison is to increase rapidity when searching in the files, by automatically eliminating those prints belonging to a category other than the one represented by the papillary trace to be identified;

  5. The archives of the International Bureau have also a file for photographs, inspired by the "speaking likeness system" by Bertillon and which deals with the peculiarities of the right profile of the face. Six parts of the latter have been taken as a basis: the fronto-nasal profile, the dorsal line of the nose, the inclination of the antitragus (part of the ear) in relation to the horizontal, orientation of the chin in relation to the vertical, inclination of the base of the nose, outline of the lobe of the right ear. The interest of this classification is to enable the discovery of the individual, concerning whom we possess only incomplete photographic elements;

  6. A file for specialists, where the individuals noted for their particular type of offences are classified. It specifies, as far as possible, the modus operandi of the malefactor, which sometimes enables us to discover him more easily or to warn the member States through circulars of the way certain gangs operate.

The International Bureau collects, in addition, the reproductions of objects of value of all kinds which are missing or have been stolen: jewels, paintings, works of art, rare documents, vehicles. They can be the subject of a general circulation in view of investigations.

It possesses also a small collection of counterfeit money, but as we shall see later on, the collection of legal and counterfeit money is in The Hague, in an office controlled by the ICPC.

With the object of assisting the development of the above-mentioned organization and to carry out the mission which it has undertaken, from preventive and primitive aspects of international crime, the International Bureau has set up a library which contains the principal penal law and scientific police reviews published by the member States and indicate the bibliographic sources with regard to criminology, criminalistics and police.

At the present time it receives about 150 reviews of all kinds. A selection of articles is made quarterly and sent to all the member States. A microfilm service enables us to give satisfaction to readers interested in any special article.

The ICPC has adopted four official languages: French, English, Spanish and German. It is for this reason that forms and surveys are written in these four languages; but the working languages are French and English, which are used for the circulations relative to malefactors and current correspondence.


These offices extend to all countries the action of the International Criminal Police Commission through the intermediary of the International Bureau.

They constitute a sort of relay or first sorting centre, through the channels of which the activity of the international police radiates.

Their activity is orientated in three directions:

  1. In the direction of the International Bureau to which it communicates the information likely to be of use on the international plane;

  2. In the direction of the national central bureaux, when the activity of the international malefactor does not take place in more than two States, but even in this case, the International Bureau must be informed of the results of the investigations;

  3. In the direction of the criminal police authorities placed on the national territory.

In brief, it is a reception and forwarding information centre to be used or receive communications in the three above-mentioned directions

The exchange also concerns inquiries where it is necessary to take action.

The national central bureaux are organized according to the norms which preside at the International Bureau, with general files, for specialities and fingerprints.

They also have powerful and rapid means of communication.

The exploitation is conceived according to the same methods but in a more restricted sphere.

Their role is not only punitive but preventive; they make all useful suggestions and point out the improvements which could be made in the fields of criminology, criminalistics and technical police; and maintain a permanent contact with the personalities capable of documenting them and thus make complete contribution in the struggle against crime.

It is owing to their joint efforts, together with the intense activities of all the services in these different domains, that the mechanism of the international police ensures total efficiency with regard to the task it has undertaken.


Owing to the development of counterfeiting and forging of currency credit instruments and official documents, the former Counterfeits and Forgeries Office in The Hague has also been reconstituted; the service is now located in this town and functions within the framework of the ICPC and under the control of the latter.

This centralizing service consists of two sections: on the one hand, it gathers specimens of legal paper currency, metal coins, instruments of credit; on the other hand, it collects counterfeit passports and identity cards and specimens of counterfeits of all sorts; these two categories of documents are transmitted to it by the member States, as soon as the official issue takes place or at the time of the discovery of the counterfeit.

It publishes the characteristics of the counterfeits and falsification by means of descriptions set forth as scientifically as possible.

The documentation received through the channels of the General Secretariat of the ICPC where the judicial exploitation is carried out in the first place, is published in the Counterfeits and Forgeries Review in Holland, which completes in this respect the International Criminal Police Review, concerning which we shall have a word to say later. Placed under the auspices of the ICPC but administered by the Dutch Government, this service interests not only the police world but also issuing agencies and important credit establishments, who are thus advised concerning recent counterfeits and forgeries.

A subscription service enables these agencies and establishments to obtain up-to-date information as soon as a forgery has been reported.

This documentation is supplied by the national central bureaux, with regard both to legal documents and counterfeit documents.

The delegated office in The Hague works in close relation with the International Bureau in Paris, through which channel passes all the correspondence.

Every three months it publishes recapitulative tables on observations made relative to counterfeiting currency. It also publishes a review, the details of which we will give below. The different types of counterfeits and forgeries are carefully studied and later described and published in this organ.

More than eighty States and territories give their assistance by furnishing collections of legal coins, notes and other documents.

III. The Functioning and the Means of Action of the ICPC

The various organizations examined would not be able to operate, and their efficiency diminished, if the institutions described did not have at their disposal powerful, perfected and rapid means of action.

In police work, scientific improvements and celerity are the two essential factors. The latter quality can easily be understood. Improved methods condition accuracy which is indispensable in matters of identification; information requires to be forwarded rapidly in order to achieve its purpose; the fidelity with which fingerprints are communicated depends on recent improvements in the methods of transmission. Any inexactitude in the terms or the images alters the truth and prevents identification.

Therefore, the ICPC has called upon experts in order to perfect the technique and the mechanism of its organizations.

The ICPC possesses two press organizations: The International Criminal Police Review and the Counter- feits and Forgeries Review, which we have already mentioned.

It starts investigations and proceedings by means of perfected individual notices and uses, when necessary, an ultra-rapid system of communication.

  1. The International Criminal Police Review is published in French and English and appears ten times a year. It contains articles of doctrine on criminology, police, criminalistics and various monographs in connexion with these subjects, official communications and a recapitulative list of circulars concerning malefactors, which we will describe below. Professors, magistrates, doctors and police officials throughout the world contribute to this periodical. On account of the confidential information which it contains, it is for the use of these readers only.

    A recapitulative list at the end enables a check to be made in order to see whether all the circulations have been received.

  2. The Counterfeits and Forgeries Review which is published in The Hague thanks to the financial and administrative assistance of the Dutch Government, is also published in both French and English.

    It consists of the following sections:

    Book 1: Counterfeits and forgeries: Section 1, Counterfeit notes and counterfeit coins; Section 2, Counterfeit cheques, securities and documents; Section 3, False passports; Section 4, Miscellaneous forgeries.

    Book 2: Notes and coins in legal circulation: Section 1, Notes and coins in circulation; Section 2, Notes and coins withdrawn from circulation.

    Its purpose is to furnish exclusively documentation concerning counterfeits. It interests not only police officials but also the issuing agencies and important credit establishments. Up to the present time about 500 subscriptions have been taken out by about forty countries.

    This Review is produced in such a way as to make reference and manipulation easy and can easily be brought up-to-date by inserting the pages as they are published.

    It supplies information about new currency issues, and gives the technical description of counterfeits and all useful indications for discovering forgeries.

  3. The Circular is a notice which on the international plane starts investigations.

On this point, the International Bureau has improved on the descriptive notices issued by the former Bureau which existed in Vienna (Austria) previous to 1939. The Circular was made, at that time, by separate documents which contained respectively the elements of identity: photos and fingerprints; thus there was the possibility of them getting lost. Certain of these elements were sometimes an integral part of the official organ, International Public Safety, a periodical which was published before the present Review.

At the present time all the elements of identification appear on the same form and are quite apart from the official organ. The separate individual notice is unquestionably better than the insertion in the Official Bulletin, its manipulation is easier and the Circular does not depend on the publication of the Bulletin; it is therefore a quicker method.

Thus the descriptive notice mentions, apart from the usual elements of identification (civil status, photos, fingerprints), the offence committed, the authority requesting search and, where necessary, a request for extradition.

In order to enable the different police departments to see at first glance the seriousness of the case to be dealt with these notices have, in the right upper corner, a special colour of which the signification is the following:

Blue mark: request for information and investigations for various reasons;

Green mark: the attention of the services to whom it is destined is drawn to the case of the identified malefactor whose movements should be watched.

Red mark: the malefactor should be sought and arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest for trial or judgment.

Black mark: the notice concerns a body to be identified or a missing person.

Other notices show the photos of valuable articles which have been stolen and give a description of same. These are chiefly jewels, paintings and works of art.

Sometimes the International Bureau circulates notices in order to make known the criminal methods of certain individuals. The modus operandi of the latter is thus unmasked and all the police services to whom it is destined are warned against their activities.

  1. Radio communications

The International Bureau uses the usual methods for communicating information of all kinds: ordinary mail or air mail, telegraph and telephone.

In cases of extreme urgency, the international radio-communications network is employed. For this purpose the French Government has put at the disposal of the International Bureau three transmitters; one of 4 kW, which are located at the Paris Station. The network offers possibilities which are more than sufficient for present needs and which will be adapted to new tasks according to the development of the stations to be connected



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Born on August 15th 1913 in TINGHAU (China)

Nationality : Chinese


Description : height 5 ft 7, black hair.

Previous convictions.

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CURACAO (Dutch Indies) August 2nd.1950 a fine of 1000 gliders or 6 months imprisonment for drug trafficking (opium).

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Reason for this circulation :



September 1950. No 571 a/50



Born June 3rd 1905 at Douar de BOUANDAS in the district of OUED MARA


Son of

Nationality : French of Algerian origin.


Description : height 5 ft.7 1/2, brown eyes, black hair going grey. Mole on the left side of the nose, scar about 1/3 of an inch on the right cheek bone, scar 4/5 of an inch long under the left jugular furrow underneath the ear.

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Previous convictions : France (SAINT MALO) February 7th 1947, 10 months' imprisonment for trafficking false petrol coupons; Belgium (LIEGE) January 19th 1950 6 months' imprisonment for drug trafficking (14 tablets of 250 gr. and 20 tablets of 385 gr. of Indian Hemp.

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Reason for this circulation :


In order to check his changes of abode, please inform the I.C.P.C., General Secretariat 11 rue des Saussaies PARIS (INTERPOL PARIS) of any movements of this individual into or out of your country.


May 1950. No 175/50.

The liaison between the centre and the International Bureau is made by teleprinter.

The transmitting centre in Paris is at the present time in constant liaison with the following stations: Bratislava Prague, Brussels, Copenhagen, Lisbon, London, Rome, Stockholm, Utrecht, Washington and Zurich.

The system for transmitting fingerprints or images by telegraph or radio has only been envisaged. Although experiments prove this method to be satisfactory, it would be necessary to generalize everywhere the technical installations which are very expensive.

Moreover, their utilization might lead to errors or imperfections, owing to atmospherics which could interfere in the circuit and blur the pattern.

The cost of this installation would seem, at the present time, out of proportion with the frequency of the cases envisaged.

For the time being, images of all kinds are sent by air mail.

IV. The ICPC and Preventive Arrest

We mentioned above that the practice of extradition was the most recent form of mutual assistance between the States, from the aspect of repression, before the institution of international police organizations.

But the practice of extradition has two inconveniences:

Before the procedure can be started, it is necessary to know the place of refuge of the criminal.

Moreover, once the place is known, the formalities of this procedure are very often long and the international malefactor, aware of the action concerning him, can change his domicile in order to hinder the action.

As we know, the procedure implies a transmission of documents through diplomatic channels and judicial authorities, and it must be recognized that the extradition treaties are no longer suitable for the necessities of the period.

The ICPC has endeavoured to remedy these inconveniences. Not because it wanted to by-pass the diplomatic or judicial authorities, for to consult the latter remains the normal procedure, but the police departments of the different countries can contact each other, in order to seek the international malefactor, before starting the normal procedure of extradition.

Then, on the basis of the procedure of provisional arrest which is provided for in the majority of extradition conventions as an urgent method, the police authorities in the place where discovery is made, take safety measures with regard to the individual wanted, and the goods which might be in his possession. This is the phase of preventive arrest.

During this lapse of time, which should be short, twenty-four or forty-eight hours, according to the country, the applicant public prosecutor's department is notified and immediately contacts the prosecutor's department in the State applied to and sends them a telegraphic demand for provisional arrest, in conformity with the texts in force.

From this moment a further period elapses during which the normal procedure of extradition takes its course. It is in this period that the documents concerning the case envisaged are transmitted and the matter is examined, after which comes the decision to extradite or not to extradite.

But the police have accomplished their task by putting the wanted individual at the disposal of the judicial authorities.

It is easy to understand that in international police matters celerity conditions the efficaciousness of the action, and by-passing momentarily the intermediaries of the normal procedure enables the International Bureau to arrest the guilty person in the shortest possible time, which might not have been done in other circumstances.

This arrest can take place either at sight of the international circular, described above, which contains all the elements of information desirable, or by telegram or radiogram, later confirmed by the judicial authorities of the requesting country and implying, in addition, the request for extradition.

V. The ICPC and the Campaign against the IllicitDrug Traffic

Our organization therefore takes action against crimes in ordinary law, but from the first it applied itself to combat the misuse of drugs, which, for two principal reasons, is an important branch of criminality.

First of all, owing to the relationship between the abuse of drugs and criminality; secondly, because it is a typical international offence, of which the consequences are felt beyond the frontiers of States.

The reports afterwards drawn up by the members of the ICPC and their work prove to the hilt the interest that the latter took in this problem.

For, whilst pointing out the danger, the ICPC created services and made practical arrangements in order to ensure the repression of the drug traffic.

Let us retrace the successive stages of its work in this field:

In September 1926, our Congress was held in Berlin and adopted a resolution demanding, besides an ap- propriate legislation and the infliction of severe punishment, the setting up of a central service in each country, entrusted with the exchange of the names of drug traffickers and with all the documentation relative thereto.[4]

In 1928, following the fourth session of the ICPC in Amsterdam, the competence of the Direction of the Federal Police in Vienna, where the International Bureau was situated, was widened and two years later, at the Congress of Antwerp (Belgium), the creation of an International Bureau for dealing with drugs was particularly recommended as well as the organization of national central bureaux for the same purpose.[5]

Parallel with this work co-operation was established between our Commission and the League of Nations which had recognized the contribution of the police services, in the terms of a resolution which stipulated that "only specialized services could enable the Governments to discover and close down the clandestine drug factories and combat efficaciously the illicit traffic."[6]

It is for this reason that a delegation of members of the ICPC was appointed as technical experts to assist the diplomatic representatives at the sessions of the Advisory Committee on Traffic in Opium.[7]

Thus it took part in the Conference convened by the League of Nations and which ended on 13 July 1931, after having discussed the text of the international Convention for the limitation of the manufacture of narcotic drugs. The delegates of the ICPC drew up a draft Convention which was approved by the Advisory Committee on Traffic in Opium and amended by various governments, then again entrusted to the Committee of Experts, of which the ICPC was a member.[8]

The draft which resulted formed the basis of deliberations for the International Conference held in June 1936 and resulted in the final text of the Convention on the suppression of the illicit traffic in dangerous drugs.[9]

This international instrument was an event of the greatest importance, for it not only unified penal law but also confirmed the official institution of national central offices, on the model of those set up for counterfeit currency.

At the end of the Second World War, during which the international traffic was slowed down owing to the lack of transport and the hindrances put in the way of the free circulation of persons, the ICPC took up again the examination of this serious problem, foreseeing that when international communications came back to normal there would be a recrudescence of the traffic and that the conditions of war would increase the number of drug addicts because of the lawful use of medicaments with a narcotic basis in military establishments. The forecasts were not long before they became facts, the sources of supply were opened again, the currents of traffic were traced once more and a recrudescence was seen in international traffic.[10]

Therefore this question was put on the agenda of our general assemblies in Prague (1948) and Berne (1949).

The reports submitted during these two conferences aimed at two objects: putting at the disposal of the specialized services all documentation likely to orientate the investigations and establishing a practical and efficient system of surveillance and control.

With regard to the system, it is specified in the two resolutions which terminated the first of these assemblies and which aimed at a series of measures likely to intensify repressive action:[11] the specialization of the personnel, reconstitution of the appropriate services, increased and closer direct liaison with the International Bureau in Paris. It has, in addition, created a subcommittee entrusted with constantly following the question. The various measures are always being perfected.

In practice, the International Bureau has drawn up forms for cases of theft and traffic of drugs in order to increase the efficaciousness of repression. They were drawn up in a similar way to those of reports of information requested of the different governments by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. The communication of these particulars does not duplicate the reports of seizures addressed by the governments to the Secretariat of the United Nations, but, in this way, we wish to ensure harmony and to combine useful efforts towards repression.

In the reports submitted to the general assemblies of the ICPC in Prague and in Berne, we already endeavoured, in this same spirit and in order to reach the same objective, to set side by side the documentation gathered by the United Nations and that obtained by the International Bureau itself.

In order to co-ordinate the work of the repressive services on the international plane, the general secretariat periodically circulates recapitulative tables of cases brought to its notice. These tables published for information purposes do not take the place of direct interventions which continue to emanate from the International Bureau in Paris in each particular case.

Harmonizing its efforts with the action of the United Nations in this field, the ICPC drew the attention of its members to the new danger which appeared under the form of synthetic drugs, but on this point, the repressive action of police authorities depends on the drawing up of legislative measures and international agreements which will place certain drugs not specified by the conventions under international control.

The ICPC, as also the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, noticed that aircraft were used more and more by traffickers; therefore our organization decided to cen- tralize the cases of illicit traffic by air, at the International Bureau.

Thus, a resolution adopted at the General Assembly of Berne recommended the reporting of all offences or traffic occurring by means of commercial or tourist planes, and to make known, through the distribution of confidential memoranda, the planes and members of crews suspected of repeated illegal trafficking on an international scale.[12]

Knowing the particular situation of the illicit traffic existing in Occupied Germany and resulting from the existence of enormous stocks of drugs abandoned by the German army, the secretariat general of the ICPC convened a conference which was held in Paris, on 22 and 23 February 1949, and at which were present the representatives of the three Inter-Allied Zones in Western Germany and the representatives of the frontier countries, with a view to promoting closer co-operation in matters of criminal police, in particular in the fields of drugs and counterfeit currency.

The definitive political status of this part of Germany being in evolution, transitory dispositions were adopted during this meeting in order to ensure as efficiently as possible the repression of the drug traffic, and, under cover of the Allied Occupation Authorities, close relations were established with the German authorities in criminal matters.

This initiative should be placed side by side with the recommendation adopted by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and addressed to the Occupation Authorities tending towards unification of the control of drugs in Germany.[13]

Moreover, a regional conference of the principal countries of Western Europe, concerned with the struggle against the illicit traffic of drugs, took place in Geneva on 22 and 23 September 1950. Ten countries were present and two United Nations delegates attended as observers.

In order to establish this co-operation on a truly practical and efficient basis, the executive committee of the ICPC wishing to take advantage of the privilege which is attached to its consultative status, decided to entrust to the writer of this article the task of representing this organization at the fifth session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs which was held at the United Nations from 1 to 16 December 1950.

After having described, before this specialized institution, the general principles which regulate our Commission, we endeavoured to show in concrete terms, the methods of this co-operation.

There were two questions on the agenda of the fifth session which concerned more particularly the ICPC: the illicit traffic and the unification of the international conventions on drugs. Concerning these two questions, which both tend towards the efficacy of repression, there must be constant liaison between the Division of Narcotic Drugs and the general secretariat of the ICPC.

It is for this reason that the ICPC should be mentioned in article 28 of the draft of the Single Convention which provides for close collaboration between the secretariat of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs on the one hand and on the other certain public international organizations interested in the control of drugs.

The ICPC can be called upon to express its opinion in the same way as it is called upon to give its opinion at the Commission on Social Questions concerning the following subjects: white-slave traffic, counterfeiting currency, juvenile delinquency, prevention of crime and the treatment of delinquents.

But, above all, one must be persuaded that the ICPC is an active organization entrusted on the international plane with the search and pursuit of criminals in all parts of the world. Therefore, it wishes to offer its assistance to the United Nations, not only by giving it technical advice on social questions relative to criminality, but by putting into action all the repressive services of its organization.

It does not duplicate with the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, for it has no initiative in the field of legislation and regulations; it is still less a rival organization of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and can but complete the action of the latter on the repressive plane.

The ICPC must therefore be considered as a complementary organization, an auxiliary of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, and its action should be in conformity with the struggle organized by this specialized institution and in complete agreement with it.

The ICPC would be willing to execute certain tasks of a police nature which might be entrusted to an international organization in charge of the control of illicit traffic on the plane of judicial investigations. It would, indeed, be in a position to carry out this mission, of course, in liaison with the Division of Narcotic Drugs.

This activity appears to me to represent a particularly useful form of co-operation in this field.

A precedent of this co-operation between the United Nations and the ICPC exists in matters of counterfeit currency. Indeed, following the Convention of Geneva on counterfeiting currency adopted on 20 April 1929, the Conference adopted the following recommendation:

"IX-that pending the creation of an International Office as referred to in Art. 15 of the Convention, the work of the International Bureau at Vienna[14] which was fully appreciated by the Conference should be continued with the completest possible co-operation of the Governments, according to the information supplied to the Conference, the International Bureau by centralizing information as to counterfeiting currency, displays an activity which is directed to the task which might be allotted to the organization contemplated in Article 15".[15]

As delegate to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, we suggest that this body recognize in a resolution this privilege of co-operation and beg to submit for consideration that the International Criminal Police Commission has an advantage over an international organization solely concerned with the question of drugs, owing to the fact that it occupies itself with international criminality in general, so that from this aspect, it is in a position to uncover cases of drug trafficking which may come to light, principally or secondarily in examining other cases of crime.

Recognizing the utility which our Organization may offer, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in its session of 5 December 1950, submitted to the Economic and Social Council the following decision:

"The Commission decided to record its appreciation of the offer of co-operation extended by the International Criminal Police Commission which, considering the relations already established between that Organization and the Economic and Social Council, it will be happy to accept as likely to contribute to the achievement of the aim of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs to suppress the illicit traffic in dangerous drugs."[16]

The advisability of this co-operation once accepted, let us show with some typical examples the results obtained through the co-ordination of national police forces, under the direction of the International Bureau.

1st example: Case Sch ... Ts ... L ...

On 10 September 1948, a Chinaman named Sch... Ts... L. was arrested in Boston (USA) for being in possession of 15 pounds of opium. A letter found on him was transmitted to the International Bureau.

This note had been sent by a compatriot W... G... L... domiciled in Amsterdam.

At the request of the International Bureau, the Dutch police carried out investigations in Amsterdam which resulted in a certain quantity of opium being seized at the domicile of W... G... L...

2nd example: Case C... François.

In January 1949 in New York, the US Customs seized on board ss "Bastia", 20 kgs. of opium and 5 kgs. of heroin

The inquiry established the fact that the drugs had been imported into America by a certain C... member of the crew of the "Bastia". C... succeeded in escaping and is still wanted by the US authorities.

The International Bureau was notified that C... François had been identified as being C... François, born on 28 January 1896, in Forbo Ocagnano (Corsica), having been convicted in France twice for drug trafficking.

C... was arrested on September 1950 in Dunkirk for white-slave trafficking as he was taking a woman on board a ship leaving for Saigon where she was to lead a life of prostitution.

C... will shortly be questioned in the prison in Marseilles, where he has been transferred, on his activities in the United States.

3rd example: The case of S... Michel.

In September 1949, the Canadian police arrested in Montreal, for trafficking in important quantities of heroin, an individual calling himself S... Michel, born on 18 January 1908, in British Columbia.

The Canadian authorities, doubting the exactitude of this civil status, transmitted to the International Bureau certain information which had been found in the notebook seized on the individual.

The fingerprints of the self-styled S... were also sent to the International Bureau.

Investigations made by the International Bureau with the collaboration of the French police, permitted the establishing of the fact that the so-called S... was in reality d'A... Antoine, called M., born on 18 December 1914, in Bone (Algeria), convicted five times in France and Algeria, for theft, aggravated theft and treason.

The inquiry also proved that d'A... was called in 1945, in Paris, F... Louis.

An examination of the records of the International Bureau resulted in a file being found in the name of an individual called F... Louis, called M... claiming, that he was born on 19 November 1914, in Bone.

On 15 April 1948, in San Remo (Italy), this person had helped to manufacture counterfeit foreign currency.

The photograph found in the file of E... Louis proved beyond question that d'A... and F... Louis were one and the same person.

Unfortunately, the so-called S... Michel having been provisionally released in Canada, did not answer the summons of the judicial authorities, when the information furnished by the International Bureau was received.

He is now a fugitive who is being sought actively.

The police and justice services in Canada, Morocco, Algeria, Italy and France, will know, henceforward, the exact situation as regards this person.

There are numerous similar examples. But we have sufficiently shown by what means the ICPC accomplishes its high mission of social protection throughout the world, and can thus be placed among the most active and efficient international institutions.



Mr. DONNEDIEU DE VABRES, "Les principes modernes du droit penal international" (Modern principles of international penal law)


Mr. DONNEDIEU DE VABRES, "Les principes modernes du droit penal international" (Introduction. Modern principles of international penal law)


Mr. LOUWAGE, President of the ICPC - Speech pronounced at the General Assembly of the Belgian Union of Penal Law in Brussels.


International co-operation in the judicial police field (Memorandum of the ICPC, Vienna, 1928, chap. X)


See Report No. 5 by Dr. Bruno SCHULTZ, September 1931, 8th session.


League of Nations document: OC. 1581, page 10.


Before the Second World War, a specialized sub-committee on the repression of the illicit traffic composed of police officials met at regular intervals some time before the Advisory Committee on Traffic in Opium.


See Doc. C. 455 M. 193-1931 XI., Geneva, 26 August 1931, pages 31 and 32.


Refer to Report by Dr. Bruno SCHULTZ, No. 3, 13th session of the ICPC 1937; for the text, see International Public Safety dated 31 October 1936.


See Mr. MARABUTO'S Reports No. 5 and 8, "The struggle against the illicit traffic of drugs"-No. 8, Prague Conference (September 1948) and Berne (October 1949).


See the International Criminal Police Review, No. 21, October 1948, page 19, and No. 33, December 1943, pages 24 and 25.


The International Criminal Police Review, No. 33, December 1949, page 18.


See documents E/CN.7/206 dated 21 November 1950 and E/CN.7/217 dated December 1950.


At that time, the head office of the ICPC.


Doc. C. 153.M.59-1929 II-Geneva, 1 May 1929, page 22.


Doc. E/CN.7/216. dated 29 December 1950.