A reader recently emailed me a very practical question:  How long does it take for INTERPOL to consider and decide a case that has been submitted by a Red Notice subject?

For those who are new to the world of INTERPOL, the question itself requires explanation.  A Red Notice subject is a person who is wanted for a crime committed in any of INTERPOL’s 190 member countries, and who is believed to have fled from that country.  In order for a member country to locate and eventually extradite the wanted person, that country obtains a Red Notice in the person’s name.  The Red Notice is circulated worldwide among all member countries, and the Red Notice subject is effectively immobilized: if she travels, she is likely to be monitored, detained, and possibly extradited back to the member country for prosecution or sentencing.

Many times, the subject of the Red Notice believes that the Red Notice was improperly issued for reasons ranging from political motivation to mistaken identity.  In those instances, the subject may seek relief from INTERPOL, asking that the Red Notice be withdrawn or modified.

Time is clearly of the essence for such a request, given the profound impact of a Red Notice on a person’s professional and personal life.  A number of factors will influence the amount of time its takes for a Red Notice request to be reviewed and determined.

Some factors are determined by the subject herself, or her attorney:

  • Is the challenge to the Red Notice well-prepared?  Is everything submitted properly in accordance with INTERPOL’s rules?  Will the applicant create a delay because of an incomplete or inappropriately based request?  

Other issues depend on the nature of the individual case:

  • How complex is the case?  How many issues will have to be studied?  Are there questions to which the member country will have to respond?

And of course, there are some matters over which the subject has little or no control:

  • When is the request submitted in relation to the CCF’s next meeting?  Will the applicant’s matter be put into the queue behind numerous other requests ? 

In my experience and observation, requests for relief to INTERPOL have taken anywhere from just a few months to several years to resolve.  It is true that responses can take what feels like an extremely long time, especially as INTERPOL has grown and changed in the last few years.  However, the subject of the Red Notice can reduce the time it takes to obtain an appropriate response by ensuring that the challenge to the Red Notice is properly and fully prepared, and does not need to be “re-done” later. 

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.