INTERPOL is an international information sharing agency that allows its 190 member countries to assist one another in the search for wanted persons who are suspected of having fled the jurisdiction of the requesting member country.

While the vast majority of publicized Red Notice challenges seem to arise from individual requests for removal that are prepared by the Red Notice subjects or their attorneys, some disputed Red Notices are challenged by the subject’s own country on behalf of the subject. In these instances, INTERPOL’s member countries may either approach one another directly, or may approach INTERPOL in an attempt to reach an agreement regarding the disputed Red Notice.

An example of country-led efforts at resolving INTERPOL matters arose last year, when the United States approached INTERPOL directly on behalf of several United States citizens to request that INTERPOL not issue Red Notices against them.  The U.S. argued that Egypt’s request was politically based, and INTERPOL eventually agreed, refusing to issue the notices.  INTERPOL also utilized its press release as an opportunity to increase its commitment to transparency, by offering that

Anyone seeking the truth about INTERPOL’s involvement, or otherwise, in any matter should contact the organization directly in order to ascertain the facts, rather than making statements based on ill-founded rumour and speculation.

This statement appears to have been prompted by what INTERPOL characterized as “ill informed speculation about this case and INTERPOL’s role.”  (More on this topic in the next several posts, which will focus on Fair Trials International’s recently issued report on INTERPOL.)

Certainly, member countries are free to engage directly in country-to-country efforts to resolve such matters. To some degree, the U.S. and Egypt did deal directly with one another regarding the NGO case. After the U.S. threatened to cut off significant aid to Egypt, Egypt did agree to allow the accused individuals to travel out of the country, although the charges remained pending, and the accused were later convicted.

INTERPOL does not govern the diplomatic relationships between member countries, so there is no INTERPOL-imposed means of conducting country-to-country communications outside of INTERPOL’s involvement.  However, if a member country does approach INTERPOL directly on behalf of a wanted individual, INTERPOL’s rules (Rule 135, RPD) do require that the country’s National Central Bureau (NCB) act as the country’s representative.

As always, comments and thoughts are welcomed.