Update on INTERPOL's Red Notice for TCI's Michael Misick: Part 1
International police cooperation results in arrest of former Turks and Caicos Premier Michael Misick
Former Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) Premier Michael Misick was arrested in Brazil on December 7, 2012 while at Rio de Janeiro’s domestic airport. TCI is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, and its government has confirmed that it will seek the extradition of Mr. Misick.
Both Brazil and the United Kingdom are member countries of INTERPOL. Their National Central Bureaus (NCBs) are in Rio de Janeiro and London, respectively, and the NCBs are the countries’ liaisons with INTERPOL’s headquarters in Lyon, France. The United Kingdom also maintains an INTERPOL sub-bureau in TCI.
Background of charges
Mr. Misick is wanted by officials in TCI for questioning on corruption allegations, as originally reported by Jacqueline Charles in the Miami Herald, here. The investigation, which has already resulted in the arrest of other government officials, centers on the allegedly fraudulent distribution of government land, money laundering, and corruption. Mr. Misick fled TCI and was reportedly seeking political asylum from what he claims is political persecution.
Brazilian authorities reportedly gave Mr. Misick permission to work while in the country and while his asylum petition was pending. However, as reported here, that request was denied and the INTERPOL Red Notice triggered detention and extradition proceedings in Brazil.
Interpol notices function differently from arrest warrants
INTERPOL’s notices, particularly Red Notices, are often an inaccurately referred to as “international arrest warrants.” A Red Notice issued by INTERPOL is a tool used by member countries to aid in detecting, detaining, and extraditing internationally wanted persons.
INTERPOL does not dictate that its member countries arrest red notice subjects. Each INTERPOL member country is left to determine how it will react to finding a Red Notice subject. Many countries immediately detain the subject, while others monitor him or her and only execute a detention when a domestic warrant is issued based on the Red Notice. Other countries have been known to completely ignore the notice, as happened recently in Afghanistan.
In the United States, once an international fugitive is discovered, the case is assigned to an Assistant United States Attorney. Assuming that all of the requisite documentation is in order, that attorney obtains an arrest warrant for the fugitive from a federal judge or magistrate in the district where the fugitive is believed to be located. At that point, a detention and extradition process is authorized.
In Mr. Misick’s case, the Red Notice served to alert Brazilian authorities as to his wanted status in TCI. Although Brazil apparently gave Mr. Misick temporary legal status and entertained his asylum claim, a domestic warrant for his arrest ultimately resulted in just that.
In the next post, look for a discussion on Mr. Misick's claim of political motivation that his lawyers are expected to advance, and INTERPOL's policy regarding such claims.