In response to the last post on the significant events between Egypt, the U.S., and INTERPOL, and particularly regarding INTERPOL’s stated offer to clarify matters regarding its involvement in a given matter, a reader left this comment:

Thanks for the great work in this area Michelle.  My wife, one of the named individuals in this case attempted to contact INTERPOL here in Washington and their automated system says if you are a private citizen to press 3.  At which point you get a recorded message indicating they will not talk to you.

Pushing the issue and contacting the public affairs person she was not given information to assist her regarding the diffusion notice or risks if she travels.  She was told “contact your local law enforcement.”

 Interpol has NOT reached out to the individuals involved in this egregious use of the diffusion system, a secretive process with no legal recourse, to assist in any way.

The reader’s frustration is understandable, as INTERPOL can be difficult to navigate.  It helps to understand, however, that there is a significant difference between INTERPOL and its member countries’ National Central Bureaus.  That difference accounts for the fact that any inquiries (regarding the status of an individual’s information with INTERPOL) to any entity outside of the actual organization called INTERPOL headquartered in Lyon, France, will likely be fruitless.  

National Central Bureaus for member countries serve as their countries’ liaisons between INTERPOL and the member countries.  While they work closely with INTERPOL, they are not branches or divisions of INTERPOL. The National Central Bureau for the United States, for example, unfortunately refers to itself as INTERPOL Washington.  It is operated by the Department of Justice, not by INTERPOL.  Thus, when one reasonably believes she is dealing with INTERPOL, she is in fact dealing with the law enforcement officials of the United States government.

Regarding the idea of INTERPOL- the real one, the one in France- reaching out to the aggrieved individuals to offer assistance, such action would seem contrary to the procedures set forth in INTERPOL’s opoerating rules.  A response to an individual’s formal request is certainly a reasonable expectation, and has always been forthcoming in my experience.  Whether the response is satisfactory or not, obviously varies. 

INTERPOL would likely argue that it does provide recourse to those individuals affected by improper diffusions and Red Notices.   The simple fact is that, for private citizens and attorneys accustomed to an open, transparent, public legal process, INTERPOL’s procedures can be difficult to comprehend or accept. The organization is an animal unlike any other.

As always, comments and thoughts are welcomed.