INTERPOL are an often-misunderstood organisation. The media frequently portrays them as a global police force involved in the arrest of fugitives. Their most well known tool – the Red Notice – is also often mistakenly described as an international arrest warrant.
What is INTERPOL and what are Red Notices?
INTERPOL is the largest police organisation in the world – with 190 participating member states. It is not, however, a police force. INTERPOL does not arrest people. It facilitates cooperation between police forces across the globe. INTERPOL operates a colour coded Notice system between its members, of which Red Notices are the most well known.
A Red Notice is circulated by INTERPOL, at the request of a member state, and indicates that an individual is wanted either to stand trial or to serve a sentence of imprisonment. It is not an arrest warrant. How a Red Notice is treated and acted upon by an individual state can vary dramatically. Some member states will treat a Red Notice alone as sufficient justification to arrest and detain an individual whereas others may require more information before proceeding.
Is a Red Notice a pre-requisite for extradition proceedings?
Whilst a Red Notice can be a clear indication that a state is seeking the extradition of an individual there is no requirement for a Red Notice to be issued prior to an extradition request being made. Many extraditions take place without any involvement of INTERPOL. Extradition requests can be made directly to another state without the use of a Red Notice and there are many other mechanisms for the sharing of information between police forces. Within the European Union the European Arrest Warrant Scheme provides a speedy framework for surrender between member states without any involvement of INTERPOL.
Does a Red Notice automatically mean that there will be an extradition?
Again the answer is no. Extradition is a complex area of domestic and international law often involving diplomatic and political considerations. A Red Notice is nothing more than a notification that a person is wanted by one of INTERPOL’s member states and a request that fellow member states arrest them pending an extradition request. Extradition between states still requires formal extradition requests to be made and a legal process to take place. Red Notices themselves are issued with no judicial scrutiny and are no predictor as to whether a request will actually be made or as to the outcome of any extradition proceedings.
How do I know if there is a Red Notice in my name?
INTERPOL publishes some Red Notices on their website. However, not all Red Notices are published. A member state may request that the Red Notice is placed on a private system that is accessible only by law enforcement agencies. In those circumstances you would only discover a Red Notice existed if it was picked up by the authorities for example when travelling. This could result in your arrest and detention.
If I have a Red Notice what should I do and can it be deleted?
If you are, or suspect you might be, subject to an INTERPOL Red Notice it is important to take advice at an early stage from experienced lawyers who can assess your situation and advise you on a way forward. International travel should be avoided.
A Red Notice is a symptom of a wider problem rather than the main problem itself. There are legal mechanisms by which Red Notices can be removed or amended but this does not address the root cause of the problem. More importantly it does not reduce the chance of a future extradition request.
I won my extradition case but there is still a Red Notice – why?
Winning an extradition request in one jurisdiction does not automatically mean the end of an individual’s difficulties particularly when travelling abroad. Red Notices may persist after the case concludes and, as we have said, extradition can be requested directly even if there is not a Notice.
Gherson have extensive experience in dealing with clients facing Red Notices and has the international experience needed to provide a global strategy for your case. Whether it is challenging a Notice in isolation, defending an extradition request or managing the after-effects and securing safe passage in the future we are able to assist and advise you on the best strategy in your case.
1 October 2014