Why doesn’t INTERPOL list all Red Notice subjects on its website?

A Red Notice Law Journal reader  recently asked a common question arises when one’s life is touched by INTERPOL.  The question:

“How can you check whether you have a red notice in your name? I checked the Interpol site but I feel information is not accurate or updated. Please advise.”

  • The answer is, of course, it depends.  A small percentage of INTERPOL’s Red Notices are actually published on INTERPOL’s website.  The reason for this is that many of INTERPOL’s member countries choose not to publish the majority of their Red notices.  Bear in mind that the member countries own the information, and INTERPOL is the temporary keeper of the information for purpose of providing assistance to law enforcement officials who are looking for the subject.
  • While some Red Notice subjects will find themselves on the website, the majority do not.  They learn of to the Red Notice when they travel or attempt to travel, apply for immigration benefits, or receive a notice of account closure from their financial institutions.
  • The reason for the non-publication of most notices is that a wanted person is less likely to travel if he is aware of a Red Notice, so the person is more difficult to apprehend.  When a Red Notice subject travels, it’s more likely that identification checks at ports of entry to member countries will result in a “hit” in INTERPOL’s databases, thereby alerting authorities to his presence and providing the opportunity for detention.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with fellow practitioners Yuriy Nemets of Nemets Law and Ben Keith of 5 Saint Andrew’s Hill in a segment of the Nemets Law-hosted webinar series, “Open Conversations about INTERPOL Abuse.” The recorded conversation includes examples of Red Notice abuse in multiple countries, such as Ecuador, India, Mozambique, Paraguay, Russia, and Venezuela; it can be accessed below.

When an individual is wanted by any member country of INTERPOL, international travel always poses a risk of detention. 

  • When a member country uses its access to INTERPOL’s databases, it should be alerted to an individual’s status as the subject of a notice. 
  • Member countries handle such “hits” differently, with some treating a Red Notice as an arrest warrant, and others requiring a domestic warrant to be issued prior to detention.

Red Notice subjects have experienced all kinds of responses to an INTERPOL hit arising during their travels:

  • some have been ordered back onto the plane and back to their departure countries;
  • some have been briefly questioned;
  • some have been detained and released on bond; and
  • some have been detained, arrested, and jailed pending further court proceedings.

The question of whether to travel while wanted internationally depends upon the level of risk that is acceptable to the wanted person.

The main purpose of an INTERPOL Red Notice is for INTERPOL’s member countries to help each other find and extradite fugitives and bring them to justice.

So why do we sometimes see a wanted person living openly in another country, without being extradited to the country where she is wanted by the authorities?

A common requirement in extradition treaties is dual criminality requirement, meaning that the crime for which one country seeks the extradition of an individual must also be a crime in the country where the individual is currently located.

For example, in some countries, the crime of criminal association alone is enough for prosecution. In other countries, that crime must be prosecuted along with another crime in order to be valid.

Without dual criminality, extradition proceedings normally will not occur.
BUT, removal from another country can happen without extradition.

For questions about INTERPOL or related matters, contact INTERPOL attorney Michelle Estlund at Estlund Law, P.A.: 305 448 0077 or mail@estlundlaw.com.

While Red Notice removal is the goal of most of our INTERPOL clients, some INTERPOL subjects need assistance with the lesser-known Green Notice.

A reader recently wrote to Red Notice Law Journal with the following question:

“I am active in a non-profit legal advocacy organization, ACSOL (Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offense Laws) that represents the rights of those convicted of sex offenses and am researching as part of its efforts the use of Green Notices or Diffusions that may be used to limit their ability to travel.

My question is, Do Green Notices, like Red Notices, expire? If so, when do they expire? Also, are diffusions used in a similar capacity? Thank you!”

Before answering this question, it is necessary to understand why a Green Notice is requested and issued.

INTERPOL issues Green Notices when its member countries request them in order to provide a warning about a person’s criminal activities where the person is considered a possible threat to public safety.

Sexual offenses and illicit drug charges

As explained here on the Estlund Law website, Green Notices are used when one country wishes to notify other INTERPOL member countries that an individual may be likely to commit a specific crime in other countries. These Notices are often issued to prevent individuals with convictions of sexual offenses in one country from entering other countries. Similarly, when an individual has been convicted of drug trafficking, a member country may request a Green Notice to warn other countries.

In the next post, we’ll address the reader’s questions regarding expiration and the differences between diffusions and Green Notices.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed. 

Today’s post is the final in our series on the most recent Annual Report of the  Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files (CCF). The focus of this post will be on the critical factor of admissibility.

Admissibility as the first step to the CCF’s examination of a case

Before an applicant’s request for access, correction, deletion, or revision is even considered by the CCF, the application must be admissible in accordance with INTERPOL’s rules.

If a request is deemed admissible, the CCF will begin determining whether the applicant’s data is being processed in INTERPOL’s information system to review the information. When a request is deemed inadmissible, the requests chamber will not act on the applicant’s request and will notify the applicant of the inadmissible nature of the request. 

Consequences of an inadmissibility finding

In 2021, 112 of 651 complaints were deemed inadmissible by the CCF, according to the annual report. This means that 112 requests for access, correction, or deletion were not considered because the applications did not meet the basic criteria for the CCF to review the matters.

Although the CCF is typically quite punctual in issuing its letters of admissibility within 30 days of receiving a request, an inadmissibility finding results in delays for the applicant. At a minimum, the failure to meet the admissibility requirements of an application will delay any action by a full month. For applicants in search of relief from invalid Red Notices, such a delay is problematic; it is also unecessary.

Requirements of admissibility of the CCF versus other international institutions

The admissibility requirements of the CCF differ from those of many other organizations that review the applications of individuals seeking relief from criminal court orders. For example, the CCF does not require the exhaustion of domestic court remedies or proof of damages resulting from the case as does the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The criteria for a case to be deemed admissible before the ECHR is more stringent, as that body acts in a judicial capacity.

INTERPOL is not a court and does not dispose of criminal cases; it acts as a depository and communication hub for data regarding individuals. As such, the CCF’s published admissibility criteria focus more on ascertaining the identity of the Applicant, clarity of the requested action, and submission to the appropriate body within INTERPOL.

Lack of prejudice for inadmissible requests

INTERPOL recognizes that it may receive requests for relief that have been drafted by lay persons or attorneys without experience in INTERPOL matters. When the CCF receives an inadmissible request, it generally responds with a letter advising as to the missing information, which allows the applicant to correct his/her error. The CCF recognizes that applicants generally have a right to access their information (which can be limited when the requesting country provides a legitimate reason to withhold all or part of that information), and appears to consistently provide that access once its conditions have been met.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

As in the previous post in this series, today’s post will discuss the most recent annual activity report of the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files(CCF), which has recently become available after the 90th annual General Assembly. The CCF issues an annual report in conjunction with each General Assembly, and the report typically includes a summary of the activities of the supervisory and advisory chamber as well as the activity of the request chamber. 

But before we delve further into the report itself, it is worthwhile to take a moment to understand its source- the CCF- and the CCF’s reason for being.

The mission of the CCF

 The CCF is the body within INTERPOL that is responsible for overseeing INTERPOL’s databases system. It determines whether certain information, such as Red Notices, diffusions, and other types of notices, should be included INTERPOL’s databases. The CCF may decide to delete the data, add an addendum to a Red Notice, or make other changes to notices in order to correct them. 

Relief sought by data subjects

People seeking assistance from the CCF most often submit requests for  

  • Access, which concerns the access to information potentially held by INTERPOL’s information system. The CCF will generally disclose the information requested pending a consultation with the data source. 
  • Correction/deletion, which is a request for the correction or deletion of information potentially being processed in INTERPOL’s files. 
  • Revision, which is a request to revise a previous decision made by the Commission. The CCF will review new relevant information relating to the former decision in addition to a list of reasons why the current information grants the need to revise the previous decision. 

Thus, the CCF’s annual report normally reflects the results of the Commission’s actions regarding those types of requests, as well as its other activity.

In terms of requests, in the last post we discussed the report’s statement that the Commission received 1,417 new requests or applications for revision of a previous Commission decision, concerning 1,665 new applicants. This means that the Commission considered the requests of 1,665 people to either access their files or to make changes in its databases regarding their files.

In the next post, we’ll address the Commission’s report regarding requests for access and revision, and the startlingly common reason that those requests are denied.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

The Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s files(CCF) has recently released its Annual Report for 2021. Notably discussed within the report was the processing of 1,579 cases, 651 of which were complaints. This series of posts will comprehensively review the 651 complaints processed in 2021. 

Among the 651 Complaints processed by the CCF:

  • 478 were complaints concerning admissible requests from applicants who were the subjects of data recorded in INTERPOL’s files. 
  • Among these complaints, 133 involved cases in which the CCF established that the data challenged met the required legal conditions for their retention in INTERPOL’s files and were therefore considered compliant. This means that the removal requests were denied and the subjects’ data remained in INTERPOL’s databases.
  • Compliance of data challenged with applicable rules was subject to updates in 20 cases in INTERPOL’s files to ensure the quality and accuracy of data, as required by Article 12 of the RPD. This could mean that the charges were improperly listed initially, or the status of the case had changed, or some development had occurred which required updating of the the data.
  • In 296 cases, the Commission established that the challenged data did not meet legal requirements and should therefore be deleted from INTERPOL’s files as they did not comply with INTERPOL’s rules. This means that the subjects who requested that their names be removed from INTERPOL’s databases were successful in their requests.

NCBs’ failure to respond or to provide a sufficient response

  • For 50 the 478 complaints mentioned above, the Commission concluded that the data should be deleted because the National Central Bureau (NCB) of the requesting country did not answer the questions raised by the Commission. This information tells us that not all NCBs are interested in defending their Red Notice requests, or at least not for all cases.

NCBs removed data on their own

  • In 49 cases, either the INTERPOL General Secretariat or the National Central Bureau at the source of the challenged data decided to delete them from the INTERPOL Information System before the Commission had taken a decision.  In these cases, the subjects prevailed on their removal requests without the CCF having to render a decision.

Blocking of data

  • In 311 of the admissible complaints, access to data recorded in INTERPOL’s files concerning the applicants was blocked, a topic further examined in the Red Notice Law Journal’s previous post regarding blocking, as a precautionary measure, pending the finalization of the cases, from the moment serious doubts arose over their compliance with INTERPOL’s rules.

In the next post, we will look further into the CCF’s 2021 Annual Report.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.


Updated Full Press Release for Chuang Liang Li (1)

Miami, Florida, U.S.A.- Chuan Liang Li, former Vice Mayor of Jixi City in China, is now free of the Red Notice that the People’s Republic of China had issued in his name for exposing corruption within the Chinese Communist Party (“CCP”).  A former government official, Mr. Li belonged to the CCP for 30 years, held various positions within the government public sector, and worked as a financial director for the Jixi City Government. Between 2011 to 2014, when Mr. Li served as Vice Mayor of Jixi City, he discovered corruption within the CCP. He made multiple attempts to report the corrupt acts and to stop public officials from violating their duties to the Chinese citizens. However, the attempts to end corruption within the CCP failed. As time progressed, members of the CCP, including Mr. Li’s superiors, asked him to engage in acts of corruption, which he refused to do. It eventually became apparent that Mr. Li’s reports against public officials had placed him and his family in danger.

In 2014, Mr. Li decided to step down from the CCP; he was not permitted to officially resign until 2017. Shortly after his resignation, he fled China for South Korea, where he was repeatedly followed by members of the CCP. Fearing for his continued safety, he fled to the United States in 2020 with the assistance of the U.S.-based Chinese Democratic Party.

Upon his arrival in the United States, Mr. Li spoke out against the Chinese government and its corruption. He gave multiple interviews, criticizing both the CCP and the Chinese government’s corruption and its attempts to cover up certain aspects of the COVID-19 outbreak. A few weeks after his first interview, the CCP filed charges in China against Mr. Li, accusing him of “embezzling large amounts of state-owned funds and accepting bribes.” Subsequently, Mr. Li’s sister, brother, daughter, and son-in-law were arrested and told that their arrest was due to Mr. Li’s public criticism of Chinese authorities. His former colleagues and friends were also arrested, interrogated, and tortured.

In February 2020, Mr. Li received confirmation from the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files (“CCF”) that a Red Notice in his name existed in INTERPOL’s database.  After learning about the Red Notice against him, Mr. Li focused on gathering evidence to prove his innocence against the alleged charges filed by the People’s Republic of China. He worked with his U.S.-based attorney, Michelle Estlund, to prepare a request to remove the Red Notice. They filed the removal request in May of 2021.

Based on the evidence Mr. Li gathered to support his removal request, the CCF agreed that the Red Notice should be removed. Ms. Estlund and Mr. Li received notice of INTERPOL’s decision to remove the Red Notice earlier this year.

Mr. Li remains hopeful that his country will one day be free from the corruption its citizens continue to endure. Mr. Li recalls his thoughts about the CCP in an interview that the Epoch Times reported in 2020:

“I will fight against the tyranny of the CCP. I hope that I can contribute to the construction of a democratic, free, and legal new China. I am not young anymore. I can’t see the day of success, but I hope that through my efforts, more people can be affected, so that more people in the world, especially those in mainland China, can see the truth, so that our children may be able to wait for China and the day when democracy is realized in the mainland.”

The case of Chuan Liang Li is only one of multiple examples of what happens when dissidents speak out against illegal activities in China. His attorney, Michelle Estlund, recognized Mr. Li’s bravery in the face of so much difficulty: “Mr. Li tried for years to advocate for reform from within the party. When he realized that his efforts were falling on deaf ears, he left the party at great personal cost to himself and his family. He began advocating for the people of China from outside the party by exposing political corruption, and he has continued to do so to this day. His tenacity, strength, and commitment to democratic ideals are commendable.”