In the first of a series of blogs on INTERPOL, Red Notices, and extradition, Gherson primarily answers the important question of what to do if you think that you may be subject to an INTERPOL Red Notice,
before exploring more details about INTERPOL and Red Notices, including how to challenge a Red Notice, before finally considering the important interplay between Red Notices and extradition.
I think I may be subject to a Red Notice, what can I do?
If you fear that you may be subject to an INTERPOL Red Notice, then you are advised to urgently seek expert legal advice. International travel should be avoided because if there is a Red Notice, this could result in your arrest and detention. Following expert advice, you will be able to explore steps to attempt to properly ascertain
- Whether there is a Red Notice in your name and, if so,
- What steps you can take to address this.
What is INTERPOL?
The International Criminal Police Organisation (commonly known as INTERPOL) is an inter-governmental organisation which currently has 194 member countries. INTERPOL enables the sharing of access and data on crimes and criminals between members. INTERPOL is essentially a global data-sharing institution. INTERPOL therefore has no investigative powers (for example of arrest) itself. However, INTERPOL can offer investigative support in locating fugitives across the world.
INTERPOL sits above all its member countries. Points of contact with INTERPOL are provided by an INTERPOL National Central Bureau (“NCB”) in each country, which are run by national police officials.
INTERPOL connects all member countries through a communication system which enables each member country to access the database and services in real time.
The INTERPOL General Secretariat coordinates day-to-day activities. INTERPOL currently states that it manages 18 police databases (ranging from information about names and fingerprints and stolen passports), which are all accessible in real time to all member countries.
INTERPOL notes that its actions are politically neutral and taken within the limits of existing laws in different countries. Of course, and as will be seen below, there are methods to challenge INTERPOL decisions.
How does INTERPOL work?
INTERPOL therefore shares information on crimes and criminals at the request of member countries. As such, if a member country wants to locate and arrest an individual (with a view to extraditing them back to that country) then they will do so through the INTERPOL system. Thus, all other INTERPOL member states will be alerted that the requesting country seeks the individual’s provisional arrest with a view to extradition.
It is via a Red Notice that a member state through its NCB can request that INTERPOL notifies all other member states that the requesting state wants to locate a suspect or convicted person and take steps to facilitate their surrender to the requesting state, normally via extradition proceedings. A red notice is therefore a request to a law enforcement to locate and arrest an individual pending extradition. Significantly, it is up to each member state to decide the legal status of a Red Notice, and INTERPOL cannot compel the law enforcement authorities in any country to arrest someone who is the subject of a Red Notice.
What are the challenges that can be made to INTERPOL?
Of course, although INTERPOL notes that its actions are politically neutral, the actions of the member state requesting INTERPOL and associated member states’ assistance might be argued not to be. Indeed this is one of the areas where a challenge against the issuance of a Red Notice can be deployed. Challenges can additionally be mounted regarding INTERPOL’s processing of data. These are complex areas and it is always recommended to obtain expert legal advice on the methods and merits of any challenge. Gherson will explore the challenges that can be made in later blog posts.
Red Notices and extradition
As noted above, a Red Notice can be issued prior to a state issuing extradition proceedings against a suspect or convicted individual. However, there is no pre-requirement for a Red Notice to be issued prior to a state requesting extradition proceedings. Therefore, an individual’s extradition can be sought even if there is no Red Notice.
Further, if extradition is sought and refused, then this does not necessarily mean that the Red Notice will be removed. The interplay between Red Notices and extradition is a complex area and, again, it is always advised that expert legal advice be sought. This is an area that will be explored in later blog posts.
Gherson have extensive experience advising clients facing Red Notices, and have experience making submissions and representations to INTERPOL on a broad range of grounds. Gherson can also call on extensive and expert international experience if required.
If you require any advice on INTERPOL, Red Notices, or extradition, then Gherson’s extradition team will be more than happy to assist. Please do not hesitate to contact us for advice, send us an e-mail, or alternatively, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn to stay-up-to-date.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.
Solicitor in our White Collar Crime Defence Team