INTERPOL recently adopted new measures in relation to its information processing mechanisms relating in particular to Red Notices. The Statute of the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL's Files comes into force on 11 March 2017 and outlines significant changes to the work of the Commission.
The Commission is the body which deals with applications for access to or for the correction or deletion of data which has been processed by INTERPOL. Individuals who seek to remove an improperly published Red Notice must do so by way of an application to the Commission.
Dates and agenda of CCF sessions
The Commission is obliged to sit at least three times a year and make the dates of the sessions available to the general public. It is expected that dates will appear on the Commission's website.
In addition the Statute makes provision for decisions to be made outside the scheduled sessions of the Commission in certain cases. In our experience, in appropriate cases, it has been possible to secure a final decision from the Commission between scheduled meetings.
The new Statute, requires the Commission to finalise the list of matters to be considered one month before each planned session. The Statute does not specify criteria adopted by the Commission to determine which cases are listed for consideration at their meetings however, it is prudent to ensure that applications are made as early as possible in the interim period between sessions.
It is important to note that under INTERPOL's Rules of Processing Data the General Secretariat has the power to impose interim measures, i.e. a temporary suspension of a Notice, pending a final decision of the Commission. Given the potential timeframe of the decision-making process, a temporary block can often be of immense assistance to applicants.
The Commission aims to confirm whether an application is admissible within one month of the date of an application for disclosure, correction or deletion of data. Once the case is declared admissible, the Requests Chamber's decision should be made within the following nine months. The decision will then be forwarded to the General Secretariat within one month. The General Secretariat then has a further one month to implement the decision.
In effect the default timetable, under the new Statute, provides the Commission one year to make a final decision and for the General Secretariat to implement it. It is a welcome step that INTERPOL is seeking to impose a stricter timeframe on the Commission's decision-making process. However, it is important to note that there are provisions for INTERPOL to extend this timeframe in more complex cases, which could prolong the case substantially.
The timeframe is a vital consideration in all cases, however, on occasion, an applicant's particular circumstances may demand a faster decision. Whilst we have obtained rapid deletions for clients we advise all applicants that they must always be prepared for delay when approaching the Commission. Our practice is always to prepare the application to the highest possible standard from the outset and to consider whether an application for interim measures might be appropriate whilst accepting that a final decision might take a considerable time to secure.
Process for revision of decisions
There is still no ability for applicants to appeal decisions of the Commission. However, the new Statute clarifies how it operates the 'revision' process. In the event of new material coming to light, applicants are entitled to apply for revision of a decision within six months of the discovery of evidence that could have led to the Requests Chamber reaching a different decision. This remains an imperfect system and it appears that the Commission is seeking to limit the timeframe for disappointed applicants to re-apply. Anyone who receives a negative decision from the Commission should seek advice as soon as possible.
Whilst we welcome some of the changes that have been introduced by INTERPOL, for example increased transparency regarding the timing of meetings, the process of applying to the Commission remains a largely opaque and often frustrating process. The new Statute is a step in the right direction but there is more work to be done. We have significant experience in making applications to INTERPOL. If you wish to make an application to INTERPOL please do not hesitate to contact us.