Discussions about INTERPOL’s Red Notices often include the fact that these notices are not actually arrest warrants.  When INTERPOL’s member countries issue Red Notices for worldwide circulation, the notices are meant to act as alerts for other member countries when wanted individudals interact with their law enforcement officials.  

Once alerted to that fact that an individual is wanted, the member countries decide for themselves whether to detain the person, to monitor the person, or to take no action at all.  INTERPOL member countries are not obligated to detain the wanted person, and INTERPOL does not require its member countries to take any particular action against Red Notice subjects.

These distinctions are significant to attorneys and matter from a legal perspective.  The different approaches that member countries take to Red Notice subjects matter very little to Red Notice subject, however.  The fact remains that any form of international travel, and even contact with domestic law enforcement, carries the risk of detention for Red Notice subjects.  

Particularly when a Red Notice has been improperly issued, wanted individuals rightly feel that they are unfairly restricted from traveling for business or pleasure.  They refrain from asking a police officer for directions in the street out of fear of being arrested; they often have difficulty banking at reputable financial institutions; and they cannot make any long-term plans requiring mobility.

Red Notice subjects who believe that they have been wrongly accused often seek to challenge their Red Notices and have them removed from INTERPOL’s databases.  For them, the difference between a Red Notice and an arrest warrant is less significant than the very real similarity: both of these tools immobilize a person until they are properly addressed.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.