A recurring client question these days is whether INTERPOL is working during this pandemic. The answer is a resounding “yes.” We’ve noticed that the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files is responding to simple requests for access even more quickly than before. We are also noticing that INTERPOL’s member countries are still searching for Red Notice subjects and using INTERPOL’s tools in their extradition efforts.

A recent example concerns the coordinated efforts of Brazil and Argentina to capture Gonzalo Sanchez, a former Argentine Navy officer, in the coastal municipality of Angra dos Reis. Mr. Sanchez is alleged to have been a part of the notorious Task Group 3.3 charged with combating ‘subversives’, and is accused of participating in dozens of ‘forced disappearances’ and killings during Argentina’s 1976-1983 military regime. In 2009, an INTERPOL Red Notice was issued at Argentina’s request against Sanchez.

INTERPOL’s Fugitive Investigative Support unit had been following the case as part of Project BASIC – a coordinated effort to crack down on outstanding war criminals. Earlier this year, upon receiving information that Mr. Sanchez was likely to attend a family reunion in Brazil, local officers coordinated with Argentinian officials to locate and arrest him. INTERPOL reports that the pandemic made the search more difficult:

Complicating the surveillance effort, however, was the arrival of the global COVID-19 pandemic to Brazil’s shores. The pandemic meant street circulation was down, making the presence of police harder to disguise, and restrictions on public gatherings meant that Sanchez would not be attending religious gatherings any time soon.

On the day after Mother’s day in Brazil (10 May), the police task force received intelligence indicating that a core group of people close to Sanchez, including his seven-year-old son, were travelling up the coast to the “Taquari hinterland”. Bordering a vast mountainous nature reserve, the area was exposed with few houses, meaning a discreet police approach would be practically impossible. When the team arrived as close as they could without raising suspicion, they conferred with locals who indicated that Sanchez was hiding in a house on the outskirts of the village, closest to the nature reserve.

Police entered the house to find Gonzalo Sanchez with his family and close friends, confirming the thesis of a family reunion. None of those present offered any resistance and Sanchez was taken into custody.

INTERPOL’s report on the manhunt is here.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

In our final post in the series on the CCF’s data as reported in its annual report last year, today we’ll consider what happens to a case while it is under consideration by the CCF.

The Commission reported that, in 112 of the 346 admissible complaints,

…access to data recorded in INTERPOL’s files concerning the applicants was blocked as a precautionary measure, pending the finalization of the cases, from the moment serious doubts arose over their compliance with INTERPOL’s rules…

What this means is that the data of the Red Notice subject is provisionally not available in INTERPOL’s databases because, upon initial review, the Commission was concerned that the case did not meet its criteria and may later be removed.

In practical terms, based on my experience, this provisional blocking does not aid an applicant in terms of mobility because s/he is often not told of the blocking until the case is finished, so travel is not a risk most subjects are willing to take. However, the blocking is nonetheless significant for other reasons: financial institutions take Red Notices into consideration when determining whether to do business with individuals; immigration authorities consider Red Notices in deciding whether to approve an immigration benefit; and potential employers may decide not to hire someone with a published Red Notice.

A request to block a Red Notice pending its ultimate determination makes sense, and if the CCF has compliance concerns from the outset, it is likely to implement the procedure as a precautionary measure.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

Today’s post is a continuation of our series on INTERPOL’s CCF, its annual reports, and what the information in those reports might mean for a Red Notice subject seeking to have a Red Notice removed.

In the CCF most recent annual report, the Commission conveyed its observations about a variety of subjects, including a growing workload, challenges within the organization, and the actions of its member countries’ National Central Bureaus (“NCBs”).

On the topic of NCBs, the report, found here, confirms that one of the reasons that a Red Notice subject’s data may be removed from INTERPOL’s databases has to do with the NCBs. More often than we might imagine, the NCB of a member country simply fails to respond, or responds insufficiently, to the CCF’s inquiries about a particular Red Notice removal request. As a result, in 40 cases that were considered by the CCF during the annual reporting period,

… the NCB(s) at the source of the data challenged did not provide appropriate answers to the questions raised by the CCF, and therefore the data were deleted from INTERPOL’s files…..

In still other cases, it appears that the NCB or INTERPOL’s General Secretariat recognized that there was a problem with the case, or that the requesting country was no longer interested in maintaining the Red Notice:

in 69 other cases, either the General Secretariat or the NCB at the source of the challenged data decided to delete the data from INTERPOL’s files before the Commission had taken a decision.

The report indicates that, while Red Notices are sometimes removed based on the evidence presented by the applicant, they are also sometimes removed based on the requesting country’s failure to respond properly to the CCF’s inquiries. This is another example of the “X factor” at work: sometimes a case is won because of an unpredictable variable, and that variable becomes possible only when a removal effort is made.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

In our continued series on reviewing the CCF’s most recent annual report, found here, today’s post addresses the CCF’s workload, and how that might impact a request for a Red Notice removal.

The CCF reported that in 2018, it reviewed the 1,422 finalized cases, including 536 complaints, 741 access requests, 97 applications for revision, and 48 other requests.

The cases examined by the CCF included applicants who:

  • wanted to know if their data was in INTERPOL’s files; or
  • asked INTERPOL to re-consider a previous decision; or
  • were requesting removal of their Red Notices or other notices or diffusions; or
  • who had other concerns

This means that, aside from requests for removal of data from its databases – the 536 complaints- the CCF is also responding to requests by people simply asking to know if their names are present in INTERPOL’s files, as well as people who are seeking relief after having their requests previously denied. The CCF also receives “other concerns;” these might be requests for policy changes, or the provision of information regarding specific National Central Bureau practices.

While the removal requests will occupy the majority of the Commission members’ time during session meetings, the regular workload of the Commission includes all of the other requests, in addition to preparing the removal request cases for review.

In the coming posts, we’ll look at the number of cases in which the CCF grants relief, denies relief, and why it makes those decisions.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

Today’s post is a continuation in the discussion of the CCF’s most recent annual report, and how the information contained in it might affect Red Notice subjects.

The CCF reported that, in 2018, it completed the processing of 1,422 cases, either because it reached a final conclusion in the cases, or because the requests never became admissible.

Admissibility is a threshold that must be crossed in order for the CCF to examine a case. While it may seem simple, applicants often fail the admissibility standards. Here’s how that might happen:

    • The applicant failed to submitted the proper documentation about himself/herself
    • Someone attempted to work on behalf of the applicant, but was not authorized to do so
    • Someone was authorized to work for the applicant, but did not submit proper paperwork to prove that authorization
    • The applicant’s identification document was out of date
    • The applicant did not clearly state the purpose of the communication

The CCF has clear and strict guidelines about whether and how it will interact with people seeking to correct, remove, or view information in INTERPOL’s databases. Those guidelines are found in INTERPOL’s website, here. The first step to viewing or removing one’s datat in INTERPOL’s website is to submit the inquiry in accordance with INTERPOL’s rules.

In the next post, we’ll continue the examination of the CCF’s annual report.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

In the current series of posts, I’ll examine the CCF’s most recent annual report, and what that report means for Red Notice subjects who are applying to have their notices removed or corrected.

The CCF issues its annual reports for the previous years at INTERPOL’s annual assembly. The most current report available is the one issued for 2018 (the 2019 report should be published in a few months). The report, found here, addresses everything from trends in member country activity to challenges the CCF faces within INTERPOL’s respective bodies to the CCF’s decision history.

Today, let’s consider the CCF’s data on its decisions from 2018.  My comments are in italics after each fact reported by the CCF:

    •  In 2018, the CCF completed the processing of 1,422 cases, either because it reached a final
      conclusion, or because the requests never became admissible.

      • In 1,422 cases in 2018, the CCF examined a case because the applicant submitted the proper documentation, or it did not admit the case to be considered because the applicant failed to submit the proper documentation. These are both new cases and cases from before 2018.
    • The 1,422 finalized cases included 536 complaints, 741 access requests, 97 applications for
      revision, and 48 other requests.

      • The cases examined by the CCF included applicants who wanted to know if their data was in INTERPOL’s files; or who asked INTERPOL to re-consider a previous decision; or who were requesting removal of their Red Notices or other notices or diffusions; or who had other concerns.
    • Among the 536 complaints processed in 2018, 346 concerned admissible requests from
      applicants who were the subjects of data recorded in INTERPOL’s files.

      • The CCF reviewed the cases of 346 people who were seeking removal of their information from INTERPOL’s files. Those people may have had Red Notices or other notices or diffusions.
    • Among the admissible requests, 70 concerned cases for 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.

      • The CCF denied the requests in 70 cases where applicants were seeking removal of their data from INTERPOL’s files.
    • In 167 of the 346 admissible complaints, 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.
      • The CCF granted the requests in 167 cases where applicants were seeking removal of their data from INTERPOL’s files.
    • For 40 of these admissible complaints, the NCB(s) at the source of the data challenged did not provide appropriate answers to the questions raised by the CCF, and therefore the data were deleted from INTERPOL’s files; in 69 other cases, either the General Secretariat or the NCB at the source of the challenged data decided to delete the data from INTERPOL’s files before the Commission had taken a decision.
      • The NCBs of the countries that requested Red Notices, other notices or diffusions failed to respond or to respond completely to the CCF’s request for information that would have allowed it to keep the data in place in 40 of the admissible cases, so the CCF removed the data.
      • In 69 cases, the CCF did not have to consider the matter fully because the NCB deleted it on its own, or the General Secretariat decided prior to the CCF’s consideration of the case that the case should not be contained in INTERPOL’s files.

In the next several posts, we’ll break down each of the above points and analyze what they mean for current applicants.

As always, comments and questions are welcomed.

The United States Department of Justice Board of Immigration Appeals recently ruled that a Red Notice “may constitute reliable evidence that indicates the serious nonpolitical crime bar for asylum and withholding of removal applies to an alien.”

This means that the Red Notice itself may be viewed by immigration officials as a sufficient reason to prevent an asylum claim or a withholding of removal claim from even being heard.

The decision, found here, highlights the significance of supplying the immigration officials with any court documents- rather than a lawyer’s statement alone- that support an applicant’s argument that a Red Notice was improperly issued or is otherwise invalid.

The court also held that an applicant has the burden of showing that the Red Notice is not the type of evidence referenced above, once the government has asserted it as such. In order to meet that burden, an applicant would do well to submit a court order substantiating his claim whenever possible. Obviously, it can be quite difficult to obtain court documents in some jurisdictions; when that is the case, the court must be informed of that fact.

It’s always the case that an applicant or litigant can increase her chances of success by educating the court on the true nature of a case. This is accomplished by submitting competent, substantial evidence in support of her position well in advance of a hearing so that the judge has the opportunity to review the evidence ahead of the scheduled hearing.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

The concerns held by Red Notice subjects who are working towards the removal of their Red Notices now also include the effect of the Coronavirus on the progress of their cases. While we cannot predict everything to come, here’s what we do know:

  • The work required to challenge a Red Notice is largely capable of being done remotely, so for most people, it can continue. Naturally, law firms will have to make some adjustments to deal with the new work environment, but many of us have had the capability of working remotely for years due to the nature of this practice and little change is necessary.
  • The CCF is still running and operational. While every country is addressing the health issue differently, up to this point, the CCF has been available for and responsive to inquiries.
  • For those Red Notice subjects who are also dealing with immigration matters in the United States, we know that:
    • matters such as interviews and in-person meetings with USCIS have been canceled through April 1st;
    • filing deadlines with USCIS and the courts do still apply, so attorneys are working on those as normal; and
    • immigration court for non-detained hearings are generally being postponed across the country.

As more information becomes available, we will share it. In the meantime, as always, comments and questions are welcomed.

 

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. In our next segment, I’ll talk about other methods of removal.

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 really comes down to the level of risk that is acceptable to the wanted person.