Interpol Red Notices
Interpol assists 190 member countries around the world to coordinate their policing efforts. It plays an essential role in the fight against serious crime. Regrettably, though, some member countries use its database as a vehicle for the international persecution of political opponents, such as prominent businesspeople and human rights defenders.
The weapon of choice is usually the Red Notice. The Red Notice list is essentially an international wanted persons list. The purpose is to alert other policing authorities of a need to arrest an individual so that extradition proceedings can be commenced. This gives rise to substantial scope for abuse and violations of individuals’ human rights.
Interpol is not subject to the jurisdiction of any court. It therefore has a responsibility to provide effective remedies to the victims of wrongfully issued Red Notices. The institution which performs this role is called the Commission for the Control of the Interpol’s files (or ‘CCF’).
A procedure exists whereby applicants can write to the CCF to request the deletion of their files. However, as things stand, the procedure is seriously deficient. For example, the CCF lacks the necessary expertise in the key areas of criminal law, extradition, asylum and general human rights law. The process is also very slow and the CCF does not provide detailed reasons for, or publish, its decisions.
There are some signs of progress. For example, Interpol has recently confirmed that it will remove a Red Notice in the case of an individual who has been recognised as a refugee under the Geneva Convention. An Interpol Working Group is currently looking at data-processing issues and, hopefully, this will lead to further improvements.
Any substantial reform seems unlikely, though, until the CCF is adequately funded. According to Fair Trials International, a UK-based NGO, just 0.2% of Interpol’s annual budget was allocated to the CCF between 2010 and 2012.
For anyone who has been a victim of a wrongfully granted Red Notice, it is important to avoid submitting a request to the CCF prematurely. This is because the CCF will not reconsider a request unless it refers to substantial new facts. It is therefore crucial to deploy the facts and arguments as persuasively as possible at the first time of asking.
If you require any assistance in drafting a request, or advice on Interpol’s procedures, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Andrew is a barrister who joined the civil litigation team in November 2012. He specialises in general commercial litigation, with a particular emphasis on fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and professional negligence claims.