INTERPOL assists in locating and extraditing people wanted for prosecution or to serve sentences in criminal cases. Matters of a civil nature are not matters within the scope of INTERPOL’s organization. However, sometimes cultural differences – and the accompanying legislative differences- create stark distinctions between the types of matters that countries consider to be criminal.

For example, a recent article by the Korean Broadcasting System (“KBS”) highlights the way that South Korea treats defamation as compared to other INTERPOL member countries. In most countries, defamation and libel are civil matters for which someone can be sued to recover financial damages. In South Korea, however, defamation can form the basis of a criminal charge. The article reports:

South Korean police have requested Interpol to nullify the passport of a Korean-Canadian, who has been sued for defamation and fraud in South Korea in connection with a sexual abuse scandal surrounding a late actress.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency revealed on Monday that it also asked for a Red Notice from Interpol to arrest actress and model Yoon Ji-oh.

The 32-year-old has been staying in Canada since April after several lawsuits were filed against her in South Korean courts. She is accused of damaging the legacy of her former colleague Jang Ja-yeon by posing as a key witness to the alleged abuse that Jang faced and profiting from the attention that she earned.

Police involvement in defamation cases in South Korea are not uncommon; this past summer an actress from the country filed a police report alleging “defamation and insult” following a public divorce and media coverage.

This difference in the treatment of defamation will likely become problematic for South Korea. When other member countries do not regard an act as criminal, their laws will not allow them to participate in a person’s extradition for that act. INTERPOL’s rules prevent it from being involved in cases where an act is not ordinarily considered a crime; those rules specifically state that crimes arising from cultural or religious norms of a given member country will not be the subject of INTERPOL involvement. Red Notice requests in these kinds of cases are likely to be denied once INTERPOL becomes aware of the nature of the case.

It will be interesting to see how INTERPOL responds to South Korea’s request.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

One of the most frequent concerns cited by our Red Notice clients is what could happen even if they succeed in their efforts to remove a Red Notice. Most people who challenge Red Notices do so because they have tried to resolve the matter at the country of origin and failed, or because the country of origin has shown that it will not act fairly in the case. Naturally, the client wonders what that country will do if and when INTERPOL removes the Red Notice: will the country accept defeat, or will it change tactics and try again to capture the individual with INTERPOL’s help?

A reader sent in this question on that topic recently:

Is it possible to submit a preventive request at the CCF to prevent/block additional notices (i.e. Diffusion) to be issued in the future for the same case.? Because the people who filled the first red notice, they my might try to send another one (diffusion) without the case being compliant with INTERPOL’s rules since they are aware that the first red notice is being challenged, and eventually removed.

I just discovered that even if the INTERPOL refused to issue a Red Notice in the future, any country can still be able to use INTERPOL’s systems to issue another, less “formal” wanted person alert – called a ‘diffusion’ notice. Without any prior review by INTERPOL. “diffusion” notices can be circulated directly between countries. Despite being notified of the decision not to issue a formal red notice, INTERPOL’s member countries are not required to remove this diffusion from their databases. As a result, my name is likely to appear on police databases across the globe, leaving me at risk to travel.

Unfortunately, there is still some part in this world where money can be used to spoil other people’s reputation.

Many Thanks for your help and support!

When people have concerns that a member country may request another Red Notice, or a diffusion, after the original notice has been removed, there is recourse available. Regardless of the form the data takes, be it in a Red Notice, a diffusion, or any other type of notice, INTERPOL does not want to possess or circulate data that violates its rules. If there is a reasonable chance that a second (or third or fourth) effort by a member country is going to violate INTERPOL’s rules, the individual would be wise to advise INTERPOL of the possibility of additional data being circulated, and request to be advised if that happens. This will keep INTERPOL alert to the misuse of its system and allow the individual to respond if necessary.

Obviously, no system is fail-proof, but open communication is a start to a client’s ongoing freedom from INTERPOL misuse.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

One of the primary purposes of a Red Notice is for INTERPOL’s member countries to assist each other in finding Red Notice subjects and extraditing them back to the countries who seek to prosecute or sentence them.

Sometimes, when authorities find a Red Notice subject in their country and alert the original requesting country to his whereabouts, the original requesting country does not take the steps necessary to extradite him. A RNLJ reader provides an example of this situation in his recent inquiry:

“I was arrested and sat in prison for 22 days because of a red notice… but the requesting country didn’t answer and didn’t send any documents to authorities of the country where I was arrested… After this situation, can I be arrested again in the same country? Is there any rule or term of Interpol’s constitution which blocks or ends the red notice in a case where there is no answer or no proceedings from the requesting country?”

We’ll take the questions in turn.

Can I be arrested again in the same country?

When a country ultimately refuses extradition of a detained Red Notice, it is unlikely that the country would release him, only to detain him again for the same proceedings at a later time, unless there is new information available that would make the extradition proceedings successful.

Is there any rule or term of Interpol’s constitution which blocks or ends the red notice in a case where there is no answer or no proceedings from the requesting country?

If a requesting country fails to supply the necessary information to the country where the Red Notice subject has been found, or the extradition is denied for any other reason, INTERPOL typically places an addendum on the Red Notice explaining that the second country denied extradition. If the grounds for extradition refusal are also grounds for a Red Notice’s removal, INTERPOL will remove the Red Notice. Article 82 of INTERPOL’s Rules on the Processing of Data states that a purpose of a Red Notice is to aid in extradition. If the requesting country is not using the notice for that purpose, INTERPOL may decide to remove it.

Because of the fact that flaws in the underlying charges often cause extradition denial, Red Notice subjects in those cases should examine the notice with their attorneys for possible grounds for for removal.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

A reader sent in this message:

“I have a red notice of Interpol but I didn’t commit any crime… I am trying to find any information possible or anybody who can help me… I already wrote to the CCF, but as you may know… it is pointless…”

Actually, I am happy to report that this reader is incorrect. The CCF routinely evaluates requests to remove Red Notices. More frequently than one might think, the CCF determines that removal is the proper decision. When an applicant provides proof that a Red Notice was issued invalidly, or that its purpose no longer exists, INTERPOL typically removes that notice.

Thus, the reader’s feeling that an application to the CCF for relief “is pointless” tells me that it is likely that the reader’s communication did not meet the CCF’s requirements for an admissible request. The CCF’s posts its admissibility requirements on INTERPOL’s website, here.

In fact, the CCF regularly responds to requests for information and for Red Notice removal. Its rules require that it advises applicants on the admissibility of such requests within 30 days of their receipt. Afterwards, the CCF typically makes decision on removal requests within 4 to 9 months from the date the request is received.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

Warning: cynics should skip this post. It is an unabashed professional letter of admiration. In my many years as a criminal defense attorney, I have encountered a few inspiring advocates who are wholly dedicated to their craft and their clients; this post is about some of them. 

The world of INTERPOL is rather small. While the reach of the organization is global, the number of people who work with and are affected by INTERPOL is quite limited. The number of people and organizations who are involved with efforts to effect INTERPOL reform is even smaller. As a consequence, there are very few people who care about what happens to INTERPOL Red Notice subjects. Without champions, people affected by INTERPOL would be left without hope for reform where it is needed.

In the last decade, numerous non-governmental organizations and governments have either embarked on reform efforts or offered reform suggestions in the hope of convincing INTERPOL to modify various aspects of its law enforcement assistance methods. Most of the time, such efforts are aimed at increasing the organization’s support of individual privacy, due process, free speech, or political rights. I have been fortunate enough to both observe and participate in many of these efforts, along with a handful of talented and dedicated colleagues.

One of the involved parties, Fair Trials International, has emerged as a true champion working for INTERPOL reform. This organization has managed to balance zealous advocacy with credible diplomacy, resulting in an active and engaged dialogue between FT and INTERPOL. Late last month, FT met with INTERPOL’s Secretary General Jürgen Stock to discuss INTERPOL reform. The meeting follows a multitude of previous reform campaign highlights, including critical reports from 2013 and 2015 that prompted significant reforms, including increased transparency, improved communications, more thorough written decisions, and better response times on removal requests.

To its credit, INTERPOL has identified FT as an authoritative and experienced organization, and has wisely given its ear to FT in an effort to stay true to its mandate to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the rule of law in general. While it would be unrealistic to expect a that criminal defense attorney would always agree with INTERPOL’s decisions, this particular attorney has respect for INTERPOL’s willingness to ask, “Where can we improve?” and then really listen to the response that the relentless advocates at FT provided.

So to all those at Fair Trials: thank you for what you do. You may never know the impact of the work that you have done, or the depth of gratitude of the people who have benefited from it. Yours is work that matters.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

Uganda’s acting director of its national liaison agency with INTERPOL has reportedly stated that the Ugandan authority charged with providing INTERPOL with accurate information is not complying with that obligation. Moreover, Mr.  Benson Oyo-Nyeko has requested that citizens themselves take responsibility for correcting the government’s inaction.

New Vision, a leading Ugandan news source, reported Mr. Nyeko’s request that individuals come forth to prove that their charges have been resolved in order for Uganda’s National Central Bureau to correct its records:

Nyeko says once a person is cleared of his offences, CID takes the responsibility to write to Interpol and asks them to clear the person from the system. However, CID does not do it so it’s important for one to personally follow up to clear his or her name. 

The CID is Uganda’s Criminal Investigation Department, and is the agency that requests Red Notices through INTERPOL.

INTERPOL’s rules very clearly require its member countries to update their information in INTERPOL’s databases. This duty includes the obligation to advise INTERPOL to remove people from the Red Notice wanted list once their cases are resolved. While it is disturbing to know that Uganda’s official in charge of compliance is confirming publicly that the CID is not meeting its mandate, it is perhaps even more disturbing to realize that his solution to the crisis- and it is a crisis- is not to require compliance but to shift the burden onto citizens.

This means that INTERPOL is on notice that one of its member countries is actively and willfully out of compliance with its rules:

Article 81: Suspension, withdrawal or cancellation of a notice

(1) The requesting National Central Bureau or international entity can suspend its cooperation request or its alert for a period not exceeding six months. It shall indicate the reasons for this suspension to the General Secretariat, which will then suspend the notice.

(2) The National Central Bureau or international entity requesting a notice shall withdraw its cooperation request or its alert and ask the General Secretariat to cancel the notice immediately: (a) once the purpose of this request or alert has been achieved…

A swift, public, and meaningful response is the only course of action that would allow INTERPOL to maintain its integrity and obligation to its rules.

As always, questions and comments are welcomed.

 

Today’s post is by guest author James Kennedy*

The privacy rights of individuals can be a tricky business, especially when it comes to companies that land themselves in hot water when they inadvertently violate an individual’s privacy rights. But what happens in the case of an international police force, such as INTERPOL? Do the privacy rights remain the same for individuals charged with crimes? Must INTERPOL play the by the guidelines of privacy rights set forth by each individual country  it is associated with, or may  it set its own rules?

Before delving into these questions, one should take into consideration that the vast majority of Red Notices are not displayed on INTERPOL’s website. If you, or a client of yours, happen to be one of the individuals that have a Red Notice and are on INTERPOL’s website, one should start with the basics:

  • What is INTERPOL? INTERPOL is an international police cooperation organization with 194 member country members.
  • What is a Red Notice? A Red Notice is an international alert circulated by Interpol to seek the location or arrest of a person wanted by a judicial jurisdiction or an international tribunal with a view to the individual’s extradition.
  • What kind of information is disseminated on INTERPOL’s website? In a Red Notice, alleged criminals have the following listed: their name, gender, date and place of birth, nationality, physical descriptors (such as height, weight, eye and hair color), languages spoken, and the charges brought against them.

INTERPOL aside, each country has its own criteria of what can and cannot be disseminated in terms of personal data. Bear in mind that most countries balance an individual’s right to privacy against government interests. That being said, if an individual is charged with a crime, the invasion of privacy (such as one’s personal information being disseminated through INTERPOL’s website) may be warranted in the country’s view by the necessity of a compelling state interest (such as the safety and security of the nation).

To exemplify the vast threshold differences that can be between two countries, we might look to the difference between the policies of Denmark and the United States. In Denmark, personal information can only be collected if the individual gives explicit consent, while in the United States, data privacy is not as highly regulated; most regulations are left up to the individual states. Once again, one must be reminded that are person being charged with crime(s) may have their privacy rights compromised with no repercussion, so long as the safety and security of a nation is a sufficiently compelling state interest.

*James Kennedy is a J.D. candidate at Stetson University College of Law

This is the second in a series of posts by guest author Lisa Ould Aklouche*

A very common concern among this firm’s clients is how long it will take for INTERPOL to issue a Red Notice and circulate it among INTERPOL’s member countries around the globe. It can be frustrating for potential Red Notice subjects to learn that the  answer depends in large part on the efficiency and motivation of the requesting country.

The procedure of the implementation of a Red Notice is composed of several stages:

  • Red Notices are published at the request of a National Central Bureau or an international entity with powers of investigation and prosecution in criminal matters.
  • Prior to requesting the publication of a notice, the requesting entity  is supposed to ensure that the conditions attached to its request for publication are met, including the requirement that the notice must be supported by a valid underlying arrest warrant, judicial decision, or its equivalent.
  • After that, the requesting entity can submit the Red Notice request.
  • Before their publication, the General Secretariat is supposed to conduct a legal review of the Red Notice to ensure compliance with Interpol’s Constitution and Rules. If the request is compliant, Red Notices are then published by the General Secretariat.

There is no single answer to the question of how long each part of the process  will take. The duration of all those steps depends in large part on the member states. What is more, Red Notices are rarely publicly published, which makes it more difficult to know the general average duration of the full process.

If a person has reason to believe that he or she is the subject of a Red Notice, an inquiry can be made directly to INTERPOL to determine his or her status with the Organization.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

** Ms. Ould-Aklouche holds a master’s degree in French law. She can be reached at lisa.ould.aklouche@gmail.com.

 

This is the third in a series of posts by guest author Lisa Ould Aklouche*

A reader recently posed the following question:

“Is it a prerequisite for a Red notice that the notice pertains to a criminal offense in the issuing country?”

The simple answer is yes.

What is more,  in general, Red Notices may be published only if the offense concerned is a serious ordinary-law crime.

In addition, if the person is sought for prosecution, the conduct constituting the offense must generally be punishable by at least two years of imprisonment or a more serious penalty. If the person is sought to serve a sentence that has already been imposed, he or she must be sentenced to at least six months of imprisonment and/or there is at least six months of the sentence remaining to be served.

The only exception to these conditions is if the General Secretariat decides to publish a requested Red notice because it considers that it would be of particular importance to international police cooperation.

As always, questions and comments are welcomed.

** Ms. Ould-Aklouche holds a master’s degree in French law. She can be reached at lisa.ould.aklouche@gmail.com.

This is the second in a series of posts by guest author Lisa Ould Aklouche*

Following the previous post about China’s violation of its obligations to INTERPOL regarding due process rights and INTERPOL’s lackluster response to those violations, the question of what INTERPOL can do about it bears consideration.

First,  INTERPOL could exercise pressure on those member countries to commit to their due process rights of individuals obligations by changing its approach to Red Notice approval.

Beforehand, we must reiterate that every Red Notice request is required to be checked by a specialized task force to ensure its compliance with INTERPOL’s rules. This review takes into account information available at the time of publication. Whenever new and relevant information is brought to the attention of the General Secretariat after a Red Notice has been issued, INTERPOL advises that the task force re-examines the case.

According to Article 86 of INTERPOL’s Rules on the Processing of Data :

“The General Secretariat shall conduct a legal review of all Red Notices prior to their publication to ensure compliance with Interpol’s Constitution and Rules, in particular with Articles 2 and 3 of Interpol’s Constitution.”

As a reminder, Article 2 states that INTERPOL shall conduct its aim in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Therefore, the first action conducted by INTERPOL, through the General Secretariat, could be to pay special attention to this legal review and filter Red Notices issued from countries that have been violating due process rights of individuals.

Additionally, the General Secretariat could treat those Red Notices with greater suspicion and ask for more details and guarantee regarding the human rights conditions under which the defendant would be treated if the Red Notice was published. One way to do this would be to suspend any form of cooperation and systematically refuse to publish Red Notices issued from countries that refuse to commit with their individual human rights commitments.

INTERPOL could also sanction countries that do not commit to the organizations’s rules. More precisely, the General Secretariat can take correction action against a National Central Bureau that does not fulfill its obligations, under the provision of Article 131 of  INTERPOL’s rules on the processing of data. Those correctives measures are the supervision of the processing operations carried out by the Nationals Central Bureau on international entity; the suspension of their access rights; as well as the conduct of an assessment team.

Moreover, the General Secretariat may also send to the National Central Bureaus its recommendations related to the implementation of the rules with a view to helping them; suspend their processing rights, after the submission to the Executive Committee; and conduct as many reminders as necessary about their role and responsibilities connected with the data they process in the Interpol information system.

The corrective measures available under INTERPOL’s rules are rather limited, which leaves few prerogatives to the General Secretariat to sanction the violation of the organization’s rules. However, they do exist and they can and should be enforced.

As always, comments and questions are welcomed.

** Ms. Ould-Aklouche holds a master’s degree in French law. She can be reached at lisa.ould.aklouche@gmail.com.