Red Notice  Law Journal

Red Notice Law Journal

Red Notices, International Extradition, and Perspective

INTERPOL and China- time is telling for Red Notices

Posted in Collateral Effects of Red Notices, INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Member Country Activity, Uncategorized

Let’s start with the specific good news: Fair Trials International obtained the removal of a Red Notice for current leader of the World Uyghur Congress, Dolkun Isa, who fled China in the 1990s and was pursued by Chinese authorities through INTERPOL for charges that were widely viewed as being politically motivated.

Mr. Isa, a dissident from China,  was wanted for alleged terrorist activities, as reported here.  The Chinese government naturally disagreed with the decision, expressing its dissatisfaction here.

It is always welcome news to find that a victim of a politically motivated prosecution has succeeded in removing a Red Notice – it means his life can normalize a bit. He can travel without the worry of an INTERPOL-related detention; his financial activity is simpler and less scrutinized; and he can search for work without having to explain that, even though he is wanted by INTERPOL, he is a law-abiding citizen.

The fact that Mr. Isa’s noticed originated from China, and that INTERPOL removed it, is also good news for those who have wondered about the effect of INTERPOL’s new president on the organization’s decision-making process. INTERPOL’ current president is China’s Vice Minister of Public Security Meng Hongwei. He entered his position amid public concern about his commitment to preserving INTERPOL’s commitment to human rights. The concerns were not baseless, given China’s human rights abuse record. However, as reported here, while some observers believed that his position was more ceremonial and less influential over Red Notice issuance, others thought that Mr. Hongwei’s presidency was cause for alarm, given China’s human rights history.

The decision in Mr. Isa’s case demonstrates that the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files has both the willingness and the autonomy to issue decisions contrary to the desire of the Chinese government, irrespective of the organization’s leadership.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

INTERPOL’s CCF application for Red Notice removal and confidentiality – part two of two

Posted in INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Red Notice Challenges, Uncategorized

In the last post, we began a discussion on the issue of confidentiality in requests for Red Notice removals to the CCF.

When a Red Notice subject requests removal of a Red Notice, he is obliged to explain to the CCF why he is entitled to relief, and that explanation often involves reference to illegal action taken by officials in the INTERPOL member country seeking to capture him.

Naturally, many Red Notice subjects who seek Red Notice removal have left behind not only a corruptly obtained criminal charge and corrupt local officials, but they have also left behind family and friends about whom they are concerned.  The Red Notice subjects are often reluctant to disclose information regarding corruption, because those same corrupt officials are also capable of taking action against the subject’s family or friends.

This is where the issue of confidential information in an application requires some thought and analysis.

The CCF advises as to confidentiality issues on INTERPOL’s website, and confirms that all requests are confidential, and will not be recorded in INTERPOL’s databases, or be used to assist in international police searches. It clarifies, however, that:

The Commission may nevertheless need to communicate some information to the INTERPOL General Secretariat or the National Central Bureaus in order to obtain information, which is necessary for the processing of a request.

Experience tells us that the CCF can and does reach out to National Central Bureaus (NCB’s), and not only to verify court rulings and case status. There are also times when the CCF explains in some detail the arguments that have been asserted by Red Notice subjects in an effort to learn the NCB’s perspective on those matters. Obviously, some Red Notice subjects would prefer for such arguments, and the evidence offered in support of those arguments, NOT to be brought to the attention of the NCBs. For example, if a subject has fled a country where a bogus criminal charge has been filed as the result of political persecution, that subject would be reasonable to believe that the persecutors, who are connected with law enforcement officials, may also persecute their family members. In this situation, a subject has to make the difficult decision to disclose information and request heightened confidentiality, while also possibly risking a negative effect on the CCF’s review of the matter, as addressed by the CCF here:

However, any item of information specifically identified by the Applicant as confidential will not be communicated. This may be detrimental to the Applicant, as it restricts the Commission’s ability to fully process a request.

Therefore, in such instances when a subject does request heightened confidentiality, the subject must rely on the CCF’s request chamber members, all of whom are attorneys, to evaluate the application based upon the evidence submitted, with an eye toward individual protection and and the ability to appreciate the very real dangers that can accompany a request for protection to the CCF.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.


INTERPOL’s CCF application for Red Notice removal and confidentiality – part one of two

Posted in Collateral Effects of Red Notices, INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Red Notice Challenges

Why would a Red Notice subject want a request for removal of that notice to remain confidential? If you were a wanted person who was innocent, wouldn’t you want to shout it from the rooftops, for everyone to hear? The answers to these questions are more nuanced than one might initially think.

By the time most Red Notice subjects seek assistance with the removal of a Red Notice, they have already endured multiple, ongoing hardships. They have often faced false or inflated criminal charges in jurisdictions where a fair trial is unattainable. Sometimes they have had civil disputes that became criminal because their opponent bribed local officials. Other times, they were charged criminally because they opposed the ruling political party in some way.

Very frequently, they say at some point during our initial meeting, “I know this sounds crazy, but…”

And the fact of the matter is, it doesn’t sound crazy. There is almost a recipe for every type of false or inflated charge that is prosecuted. That recipe almost always includes more than one person in power with an agenda that includes, or requires, the maintenance of criminal charges against individuals who would serve as obstacles to their goals. It may be as simple as a local police officer and prosecutor who filed a criminal complaint after being bribed. It may be as complicated as an entire national administration dedicated to keeping an oligarchy in power.

Regardless of the corruption model, a Red Notice subject often fears retribution when seeking relief from an improperly issued Red Notice. Even though the subject himself may have escaped an unsafe venue, he often has the worry of the family and business associates he left behind. It is not at all unusual for remaining family and associates to be harassed and intimidated by authorities, both officially and unofficially.

For these reasons, Red Notice subjects are often extremely concerned about confidentiality in their requests for relief to the CCF.

Submitting a request for relief to CCF requires a showing of violations of rule and law, which may require a showing of information that could endanger people back home. While the CCF’s rules do provide for confidentiality, there are situations where the CCF may wish to verify information with the country that requested the notice in the first place. Accordingly, applicants often have to decide whether to send the CCF information that would assist their cases, or to keep that information private in the interest of family safety.

In the next post, we’ll look at the issue of absolute confidentiality in the context of a request for relief to the CCF.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

The CCF uses tough love on INTERPOL’s National Central Bureaus

Posted in Collateral Effects of Red Notices, INTERPOL's Infrastructure, INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Member Country Activity, Red Notice Challenges, Uncategorized

Under the leadership of its current Chairman,  Vitalie Pirlog, the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files (“CCF”) has proven in this year’s decisions that it is serious about holding National Central Bureaus to their obligations under INTERPOL’s rules.

In his speech at this year’s General Assembly, Chairman Pirlog reminded INTERPOL’s membership that the CCF often seeks information from their National Central Bureaus (“NCBs”). These responses are essential to the CCF’s ability to make decisions about requests for removal of Red Notices from the requesting country. Mr. Pirlog reminded member countries that timely responses were particularly important, given the CCF’s new statute that generally requires a response to be issued within four to nine months.

INTERPOL has always provided the required assistance to its members’ NCBs, but historically, the NCBs have not always been strictly observant of their duties to provided requested information, or to provide it timely. The CCF has apparently had enough of that, and is holding the members countries’ NCB’s feet to the fire.

Based on the CCF’s decision letters that have been received by this practitioner, it is clear that:

  • The CCF is generally adhering to the new time limitations for issuing decisions, with some decisions being issued even earlier than required;
  • The CCF is demanding cooperation from National Central Bureaus, and when they do not respond in a timely fashion, the CCF is proceeding to make a decision based on the information it has, rather than waiting or continuing the matter until the NCB provides a full response; and
  •  The decisions being issued by the CCF are generally accompanied by a reasoned explanation, detailing the Commission’s steps and considerations taken in reaching its decision.

These factors are critical to the CCF’s efforts at demonstrating transparency, and allow applicants to both appreciate the nature of the process, as well as to recognize that they were given a “fair shake” in INTERPOL’s processes. One would hope that the more lax NCBs recognize the shift in culture at the CCF, and become more compliant as a result. Whether they do or not, the CCF will benefit from the fact that it is protecting INTERPOL’s interests in transparency and the furtherance of human rights.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

Turkey continues to challenge INTERPOL by abusing its Red Notice system

Posted in Collateral Effects of Red Notices, INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Member Country Activity, Uncategorized

Last month, a Swedish journalist of Turkish descent, Hamza Yalçin was finally released from detention in a Spanish jail awaiting an  extradition decision. Turkey has requested and received an INTERPOL Red Notice based upon an underlying charge of “terrorism” and insulting the Turkish president.

If he had been extradited, Mr. Yalçin would have faced over 22 years in prison for insulting the president of Turkey.  The journalist reportedly received asylum from Sweden many years ago based on his previous political activity in Turkey.   The facts that Mr.  Yalçin is a journalist and that he is an asylee from Turkey both render the Red Notice against him rather curious: INTERPOL has a policy in place that was enacted for the purpose of protecting asylees from further political persecution by the countries from which they fled, and notices against journalists are often requested based on their criticism of the requesting regime.

This is not the first time that Turkey has utilized its access to INTERPOL’s tools to aid in the prosecution of a journalist.  Earlier this year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel noted that Germany has had to modify its policies in dealing with Turkey, and that such abuses against journalists and critics cannot be tolerated.

Yalçin was released late last month, but not because the Red Notice was dropped: he reportedly was released because Spanish law did not allow for the extradition of  an asylee.

INTERPOL has an opportunity to highlight its commitment to human rights by subjecting Turkish Red Notice requests to additional scrutiny before issuing them, particularly where the subject is an author or journalist.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

INTERPOL and child kidnapping cases- what are INTERPOL’s abilities and limitations?

Posted in INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Red Notice Challenges

A reader recently contacted Red Notice Law Journal to inquire about INTERPOL’s role in child kidnapping cases. This question  is unfortunately more common than one might imagine, and is likely to become more so as we continue to evolve into a more and more transient world.

INTERPOL’s involvement in child kidnapping, or abduction, cases, primarily involves Red Notices for the person accused of wrongfully taking the child out of an INTERPOL member country, and Yellow Notices for the child who is thought to have been wrongfully taken.

A Red Notice is issued when a person is wanted for a crime. This means that, until an arrest warrant (or its equivalent) for a criminal act has been issued for a person accused of kidnapping a child, INTERPOL cannot be used to assist in finding the accused person.

A Yellow Notice is issued for missing persons who have been kidnapped or have disappeared without explanation. No criminal charge is necessarily required for this type of notice to be issued regarding a missing child. For parents seeking the whereabouts of their children, even if there is no actual criminal charge pending against anyone for taking the child, a Yellow Notice may be requested through local law enforcement authorities.

Certainly, there are times when a Red Notice is improperly requested by a parent with the assistance of local law enforcement, often when a custodial parent has moved in compliance with a court order out of the country. In such instances, local law enforcement and INTERPOL may have no way of knowing that the Red Notice request was improperly requested until the custodial parent learns of the notice and informs INTERPOL of the actual nature of the case.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

INTERPOL and security checks from the U.A.E. and other Middle Eastern countries

Posted in Collateral Effects of Red Notices, INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Member Country Activity

We continue to receive reports, like this one, of individuals who are wanted in the United Arab Emirates or other areas in the Middle East, for bounced security checks. I addressed the basics of this issue in a previous post, here.  At the time, it appeared that efforts to bring this matter to the forefront, led by multiple attorneys such as Radha Stirling and those at Fair Trials International, would lead to a resolution of these types of notices. While we have all had success in handling the Red Notices stemming from bounced security checks, here we are several years later with this issue is still lingering, causing incredible hardships for the subjects of the Red Notices.

The use of security checks in the Middle East

In many countries in the Middle East, where established credit verification mechanisms are still in development or are not widely used in the same manner as other parts of the world, financial institutions require the individual seeking the mortgage loan to execute an undated security check in the full amount of the mortgage. It is understood by all parties that the borrower does not have the full amount of the check in the bank.  If the mortgage payment is missed, the financial institution will deposit the check, which will “bounce,” or be returned for insufficient funds, and the institution will then foreclose on the property.

However, it also eventually became the practice of many financial institutions in the Middle East to also refer the check to the local police for criminal prosecution, despite the lack of evidence of any fraudulent or criminal intent. The property is then reverted back to the financial institution’s possession. If the borrower is not in the country, a Red Notice is often requested to aid in criminal prosecution.

As a result of this practice, many foreign nationals who are relocated by their employers, or who are forced to leave the country when they lose their jobs, and thus their legal status, find themselves in the situation where they no longer have the income that allowed them to qualify for the mortgage loan, and can no longer legally live or work in the country, but are being pursued for criminal charges that they have no way of resolving.

Request to INTERPOL for a policy statement

Earlier this month, I made a request for a policy statement on this issue to INTERPOL. The request was acknowledged and we now await the statement. It is important that INTERPOL issue a public statement regarding its stance on this issue, lest private financial institutions continue utilizing even the threat of INTERPOL involvement in cases where such involvement is improper.

It is critical for both INTERPOL and its member countries that INTERPOL’s tools not be used for improperly based charges, and that INTERPOL be utilized as an effective law enforcment organization, rather than a debt collection agency for certain member countries.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.


INTERPOL Red Notices – what does it mean when a notice is removed from the website?

Posted in INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Member Country Activity

INTERPOL’s website contains a search page for wanted persons. A reader recently sent in a commonly posed question about those notices:

I have a query regarding Red Notices. If the information about a person against whom a red notice has been issued is no longer published on INTERPOL’s public website, does that mean that the red notice no longer exits? Also, is there any way of knowing the status of such a red notice?

When a notice that was once shown on INTERPOL’s website no longer appears there, it could be for several reasons:

  • The notice has been withdrawn by the member country that originally requested it.
  • The member country has requested that the notice remain active, but no longer be published on the website.
  • The CCF has taken the case under consideration and INTERPOL has removed the notice while the matter is pending.
  • The notice has been removed.

Under some circumstances, but not all, INTERPOL will explain the reason that the notice no longer appears. The CCF will always send a letter in response to a request for information, but only when the request meets the CCF’s criteria for a substantive response will one be given.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

INTERPOL’s CCF – how and when attorneys can have a second chance at obtaining a favorable CCF decision for their Red Notice clients (Part 3 of RNLJ’s New Rules series)

Posted in Collateral Effects of Red Notices, INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Red Notice Challenges

In this series, Red Notice Law Journal addresses the changes created by the newly enacted CCF statute. Many of the changes are reflective of those requested by INTERPOL practitioners and by human rights organizations in the last several years. For example, Fair Trials International provided input that was instrumental in advocating for INTERPOL reform, and many of its recommendations made their way into the new statute.

As an attorney representing clients who have been frustrated in the past by the perception of a lack of clarity and transparency in the CCF’s processes, I have also recommended changes to the CCF’s response format and the depth of information and transparency contained in those responses. The CCF’s new statutory obligation to publish its decisions, as discussed here, is one of the most welcome changes of all.

In addition to the CCF embracing its own new obligations under the statute, the CCF is also now more clear about one of the obligations of Red Notice subjects seeking relief from the CCF after previously being denied relief from the organization. Previously, the applicable rules only made reference to a general notion, addressed here, that successive requests for relief could be denied if they were deemed substantially similar to previous requests or if the CCF viewed the requests as being abusive of the CCF’s processes.

Now, however, the statute provides a clear statement of how successive requests will be reviewed, or not. Article 42 of the statute provides that

(1) Applications for the revision of decisions of
the Requests Chamber may be made only
when they are based on the discovery of facts
which could have led the Requests Chamber
to a different conclusion if that fact had been
known at the time at which the request was
being processed.
(2) Applications for revision must be made within
six months after the discovery of the fact.

The applicant therefore has clear guidance as to when a renewed request is admissible and when it is not. This specification obviously places a burden on the applicant, but every legal or quasi-legal body has procedural requirements, and the fact that individuals who apply to the CCF for relief now have more clear guidance renders the process more predictable, and therefore, more fair.

As always questions or comments are welcomed.


INTERPOL’s CCF to begin publication of decisions (Part 2 of RNLJ’s New Rules series)

Posted in INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Uncategorized

As discussed in the last post, here, INTERPOL’s new rules governing the CCF took effect in March. From a practitioner’s standpoint, among the more significant changes is the CCF’s new task of publishing its opinions and providing reasoning for them.

The CCF is now required to “endeavour to make its decisions, opinions, recommendations and
reports public in all working languages of the Organization.”

This language of the statute is devoid of hard deadlines or methods of publication- there are no assurances that the CCF’s decisions will be published monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc. In fact, there is not the requirement that the CCF actually publishes an opinion- simply that it must endeavor to do so.

However, the publication provision in the statute is still good news. This marks the first time that the CCF has obliged itself to even contemplate creating a public repository of opinions, and that would be a very useful thing for both the CCF and practitioners for a couple of reasons:

  • Published decisions allow practicioners to better understand the CCF’s analytical process and the weight that the CCF gives to various types of arguments.  Until now, we have been limited to reviewing our own cases or the relatively few media cases to gain insight as to the CCF’s deliberative process.
  • Published decisions allow the CCF to receive better prepared requests for relief. An informed practitioner is an effective practitioner.

Now, we wait to see how and when this new practice will take effect.

Next time: new rule on the how quickly an attorney must act on the discovery of new information in an applicant’s case.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.