While there is no doubt that INTERPOL holds great power over the lives of people who are the subjects of its notices, and that INTERPOL has one of the strongest international networks in the world, we are reminded this week of the fact that INTERPOL does not own the information in its files.

Every INTERPOL member country owns the information that it supplies to INTERPOL, and the member country has a say in whether that information can be made available to requesting parties, as well as whether the information should continue to be disseminated via INTERPOL’s data-sharing tools.

As reported here, Colombia recently decided to suspend its request for INTERPOL’s help in tracking certain wanted persons.  The reason for the suspension is that the country plans to engage in peace talks with members of the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), and one or more of those members were Red Notice subjects.  The talks are to take place in Norway, and a Red Notice presents an obvious travel impediment to the subject of the notice.

Given that Colombia is the owner of the information that it submitted to INTERPOL, Colombia is well within its rights to request the complete withdrawal of the information or, as is the case with the FARC members, to request the temporary suspension of the Red Notices.

The parties to the talks flew to Norway on October 17, and the Colombian government expects that any resolution to the ongoing conflict will necessarily include a means of political participation for the FARC.  Whether the Red Notices will be reinstated after the talks quite likely depends on how successful the parties are at coming to a resolution of their differences.

As always, comments and thoughts are welcomed.