My life today is different.” These are the words of one of our clients, Mauricio Ochoa Urioste, whose life changed from one day to the next because he is no longer listed as a wanted person on INTERPOL’s Red Notice list.

Earlier this year, INTERPOL announced its new policy on refugees, as discussed here. Mr. Urioste is one of the earliest beneficiaries of this policy, which has become effective rather quickly.**

Mr. Urioste is a politically active attorney from Bolivia who became the subject of a Red Notice when certain officials within the Bolivian government targeted him for prosecution of ordinary law crimes after he refused to participate in the execution of contractual agreements that he found to be illegal and he publicly criticized President Evo Morales.

Mr. Urioste had been wanted for criminal prosecution by Bolivian officials since 2010.  Realizing that he would not receive a fair trial in Bolivia, he made his way to Uruguay.  He was granted refugee status in 2011, but remained listed on INTERPOL’s wanted list. Of course, his wanted status meant that he risked detention if he traveled, even though he was classified as a political refugee.

With the implementation of INTERPOL’s new refugee policy, Mr. Urioste had a newly recognized avenue by which to seek the removal of his Red Notice.  While he also had the option of seeking removal on other grounds, the refugee policy provided a “bright line” test that the CCF could apply to his case for a faster analysis and decision.

The CCF’s decision in Mr. Urioste’s case also included more clear, instructive information that some decision letters in the past.  The CCF explained clearly that:

  • The data regarding Mr. Urioste were deleted from INTERPOL’s files;
  • All National Central Bureaus of INTERPOL’s member countries were notified that the information was destroyed; and all international police cooperation via INTERPOL’s channels in this case would not be in conformity with INTERPOL’s Constitution and Rules;
  • All National Central Bureaus were advised to update their national databases regarding Mr. Urioste’s information.

Congratulations to Mr. Urioste, and also to the CCF on its efficient imposition of a common-sense approach to the treatment of Red Notice subjects who are refugees.

** INTERPOL’s refugee policy was announced in May. We submitted his request for relief in late September, and we received the final decision in mid-November.  This is an extremely swift response time for an INTERPOL case, and response times do appear to be decreasing in many cases.  More on that topic in the next post.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.