Join us tomorrow for the event below:

What happens when the organization meant to fight crime helps criminal regimes?

Interpol, the international organization of police agencies, has been manipulated by autocracies into an instrument of transnational repression. Join Heritage on May 18 to learn how we can end this abuse: https://www.heritage.org/global-politics/event/virtual-event-ending-interpol-abuse-how-the-democratic-world-can-fight

See you there.

 

On May 18, at 11am EST, Dr. Ted Bromund of the Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy at the Heritage Foundation will host a virtual event featuring the following panelists:

  • Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS)
  • Nate Schenkkan (Freedom House)
  • Ben Keith (5SAH)
  • Michelle Estlund (Estlund Law, P.A.)
  • Paul Massaro (US Helsinki Commission) on the issue of transnational repression with a focus on Interpol abuse.

You can register for this event at: https://www.heritage.org/global-politics/event/virtual-ending-interpol-abuse-how-the-democratic-world-can-fight.

A critical concern for people who have successfully applied to remove their Red Notices from INTERPOL’s Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files is the question of what will happen if the member country makes another request for a Red Notice at a later time.

The removal of a Red Notice often follows a lengthy preparation and waiting process. Clients often cannot fathom the idea of going through the process yet again. However, it has been my experience and observation that repeat requests for Red Notices are rare, and while it is possible that they could be granted, they usually are not.

For example, the media recently reported that officials in India had attempted – for the third time- to obtain a Red Notice against Indian Islamic preacher and television evangelist Zakir Naik. Although the successive requests contained slightly different information than the original request, all of them were denied. INTERPOL recognized that the underlying basis for the charges was essentially the same.

There have been times when member countries have circumvented the approval process that is required for Red Notices and instead issued diffusions, as happened to famed financier and now political activist Bill Browder. In that situation, INTERPOL caught the diffusion after Russia had issued it and removed the diffusion on its own. While this type of activity is disconcerting to potential or prior Red Notice subjects, it does appear to be rare.

Individuals who believe that a member country may repeat a Red Notice or a diffusion request would do well to stay abreast of new court or political developments related to their cases, and to remain in communication with INTEPROL regarding the status of those cases.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

This week, I received a post idea from Rutsel Silvestre J. Martha, of Lindeborg Counsellors at Law. Mr. Martha is a highly respected expert on international law and his 2010 book, The Legal Foundations of INTERPOL, was one of my earliest sources of instruction regarding all things INTERPOL when I began this area of practice over a decade ago.

In response to a post on the numerous ways in which an individual might catch the attention of INTERPOL, he suggested that I explain how the FIND and MIND databases work, which would in turn explain how even a traffic stop can lead to an arrest. Mr. Martha’s idea is a good one, because many Red Notice subjects are actually law-abiding people, and the way that most law-abiding individuals come into contact with law enforcement officials is through routine traffic stops.

FIND and MIND are acronyms for Mobile INTERPOL Network Database (MIND) and the Fixed INTERPOL Network Database (FIND). These databases were implemented in 2005. They facilitate searches of people, motor vehicles, and documents at international transit or other points. FIND provides access to an active online database, and MIND provides access to an offline database, which is periodically downloaded in an updated form every 24 to 48 hours.

The databases can be accessed by officials at the border or in the field, which makes it easier for officers on the road (see second photo under 2005) to know when they have encountered a person who is wanted by INTERPOL.

In addition to aiding in the detection of Red Notice subjects, the MIND/FIND databases also seem to bear a relationship to decreased terrorist attacks in the countries that utilize them. The databases have been the subjects of several academic studies, including a 2015 study published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. This study, conducted by Javier Gardeazabal and Todd Sandler,  found that countries that had implemented the FIND/MIND databases also experienced a comparatively fewer transnational terrorist attacks.

An earlier study showed that the initial cost for the databases was inexpensive relative to the value of the service provided, but not all eligible countries participated. Simultaneously, some countries that were initially not expected to utilize the service, such as Bosnia/Herzegovina, Syria, Guatemala, and the Russian Federation, did implement them.  Some of those countries received external funding support for the databases, and that may have played a role in their decision to utilize MIND/FIND.

The use of the FIND/MIND system allows officers to look up an individual’s information without having to go directly to an I-24/7 portal or involve the country’s National Central Bureau in the query, which obviously saves time for local police departments. This allows the more ready access to INTERPOL’s system that could result in a routine traffic stop becoming a Red Notice “hit.”

Thanks to Mr. Martha for his suggestion. As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

I have a client whose Red Notice was recently blocked by INTERPOL. Blocking is an interim measure that an attorney or client can request while the case is being studied by INTERPOL. When this happens, the notice is not visible to INTERPOL’s member countries, and no detention or extradition activity should be taken in relation to that Red Notice while it is blocked.

The specific country from which the notice originated is also notified that the notice is blocked. In my practice, clients from member countries such as Ecuador, Egypt, Palestine, Russia, and Venezuela have sought and obtained the blocking of a Red Notice while their cases were being studied. Occasionally, INTERPOL will decide on its own to block a notice.

It is possible that a Red Notice will not be removed after an initial decision by the CCF to block the notice. Frequently, however, the reason for the notice being blocked is that the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files (“CCF”) is concerned that something about the underlying case or the notice itself violates INTERPOL’s rules. If the CCF determines after fully studying the case that its initial concerns are valid, the CCF will recommend the removal of the notice.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

Red Notices are viewed as being at least theoretically valid based upon the requirement that they be approved by the General Secretariat prior to acceptance and/or publication by INTERPOL.

Another animal entirely is the diffusion. A diffusion is a notice shared by any one of INTERPOL’S member countries with the other member countries. It is comparable to a BOLO (be on the lookout), as we would say in the States.

A diffusion might be used, for example, if the Republic of South Korea were to inform member countries Sweden or Cameroon that South Korea is looking for an individual specifically in those countries, or if it seeks to share information only with those countries regarding an individual.

A diffusion often contains information similar to a Red Notice, is circulated via INTERPOL’s I-24/7 secure police communications network, and it might be sent to all member countries, or only to specific member countries.

The major difference between a diffusion and a Red Notice is that the General Secretariat does not review or approve a diffusion prior to its being disseminated to other member countries.

This distinction is critical because the lack of review may allow diffusions to be circulated that would otherwise be denied circulation if they were Red Notice requests. For example, if basic judicial information is missing from a diffusion, that absence of information is improper, but will not prevent its circulation because no review is required for a diffusion. This distinction means that diffusions that violate INTERPOL’s rules can and do get circulated undetected until they cause a problem for the subject of the diffusion.

As always, comments and thoughts are welcomed.

 

 

 

 

 

One of the most personal aspects of an INTERPOL case concerns a Red Notice subject’s decision about attorney representation. On that topic, a reader sent in the following question:

“Can a termination of legal representation of a lawyer after the submission of the application form to the CCF (deletion request) and before the first review by the Commission of the file automatically lead to the dismissal of the Application on a procedural basis?”

This reader has clearly already hired an attorney who has submitted a request for removal of a Red Notice, and the case is now in the process of being reviewed by the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files (“CCF”).

The answer to the question is no. An applicant’s choice of which attorney, or whether to hire an attorney, or where the attorney is located, on an INTERPOL matter should have no effect at all on the CCF’s evaluation of the case. This is true, regardless of whether, for example, a client’s new attorney is in India and the client’s old attorney is in the United States or China.

However, if a change in counsel is made and a new power of attorney is executed for a new attorney to act on the subject’s behalf, the CCF must be advised of that change so that it has the correct contact information on file when it comes time to send out its decision or other correspondence.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

Some Red Notice subjects are surprised when I tell them that they should not hire me to seek the removal of their names from INTERPOL’s wanted list. There are times when the best course of action is not to go to INTERPOL for relief, at least, not as a first effort. This post addresses those situations.

For a variety of reasons, the optimal place to resolve a dispute is at its origin. For example, if a person is wanted in the United Kingdom, chances are that the evidence, witnesses, and lawyers who have worked on the case are also found there. On a relative scale, the judicial process in the UK is more likely than many other places to include proper respect for an individual’s due process rights. For Red Notice subjects wanted by NCB Manchester, it will often make the most sense to at least attempt to resolve the criminal case in the UK prior embarking on a Red Notice removal effort. The resolution of the local case will also resolve the Red Notice.

On the other hand, a Red Notice subject who is wanted in Russia, Turkey, or Venezuela, or another jurisdiction with an abysmal record of human rights violations, may justifiably believe that her case will not be fairly resolved at its origin. Even with legitimate concerns about the danger of due process violations, many Red Notice subjects do try to reach a resolution of a criminal case in the jurisdiction where it originated. Those efforts sometimes succeed, and sometimes are met with bribery attempts, extortion efforts, or harassment of family members. In these situations, seeking the removal of a Red Notice is often the best course of action.

The strategy behind when to make a Red Notice removal request obviously varies from person to person and from case to case. It may be that simultaneous actions in varying venues is appropriate, and it may be preferable to schedule a series of actions  with the client’s goals and resource allocation preferences in mind. The critical element is that these issues are discussed, addressed, and decided upon in advance of taking any action.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

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For people who find themselves the subject of Red Notices, it seems that the more questions they ask, the more confused they become.  Part of this phenomenon is due to the nature of INTERPOL:  it can be difficult to digest the verbiage used by INTERPOL, and the organization’s processes and rules are not exactly intuitive.

A few of the questions that may arise for Red Notice subjects are:

How can INTERPOL issue a Red Notice against me when it’s obvious that the charges are false?  INTERPOL allows its member countries to request or issue Red Notices if certain application criteria are met.  Those criteria do not include proof of guilt (although a record of a conviction is acceptable to INTERPOL as well.)  INTERPOL acts as an information conduit, not as a court that determines guilt or innocence.  This question is addressed in more detail in a previous post, here.

Can a lawyer help me?  It depends.  If your case was processed properly and all of the relevant rules, laws, and texts were followed, then no.  Your Red Notice was validly issued and you likely would have no claim for relief.  On the other hand, if the information regarding you was processed in violation of any of the applicable rules, laws, or texts, then you may have a valid claim for relief with INTERPOL, and a competent lawyer can assist you with that claim.

How long will INTERPOL take to respond to an application for relief?  The normal response time is four to nine months.  Occasionally, the CCF will need more time to decide a case,  depending on the complexity of your claim and the need for INTERPOL to seek information from the relevant country’s National Central Bureau (NCB) regarding the matters raised in your claim.  It often takes longer for the CCF to decide the case than it took to prepare the removal request. Therefore, if you have a Red Notice issue, waiting to address it only adds more time to the final resolution of the matter.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.