(Today’s post is courtesy of guest author, Isabel Alcántara*)

According to INTERPOL’s most recent Annual Report, police worldwide searched INTERPOL’s databases 5.4 billion times in 2018 [this is an increase of 18% from 2017]. The increase may be due to the implementation of new systems, such as:

• The STADIA Knowledge Management System, which supports security of major events, such as sporting and political events.

• The facial recognition database that was launched in 2016.

• A new version of INTERPOL’s International Child Sexual Exploitation database that was launched in June of 2019, making it simpler to populate the database with new images and videos.

• The I-ONE initiative launched in April 2018 to upgrade equipment in 31 African National Central Bureaus, which give police at airports, seaports and land border crossings access to INTERPOL’s secure I-24/7 network that supports automatic traveler screening.

These systems, among the 18 INTERPOL databases, make more information available to INTERPOL and the entities that search its databases.

Amidst the stored data are INTERPOL’s color-coded notices, which are international alerts for fugitives, suspected criminals, persons and entities subject to UN Security Council Sanctions, potential threats, missing persons, dead bodies and criminal methods. Details on these notices are stored in a database known as the INTERPOL Criminal Information System. National police use this database during their investigations via I-24/7, a secure global police communications system.

At the request of the member country or international entity, extracts of notices may also be published on the Organization’s public website.

Law enforcement searches of INTERPOL’s databases in 2018 resulted in 1.1 million ‘hits’- instances where data stored in the databases matched search criteria. National police then decide on what action to take upon making a positive match.

All of this increased data entry and storage capability means that someone who has traveled internationally out of the country where her criminal charges originated is increasingly likely to have a Red Notice published under her name.

In the next post, we’ll discuss how some individuals handle getting ahead of a red notice by submitting preemptive requests to INTERPOL.

* Isabel Alcántara is a juris doctor candidate in her third year at St. Thomas University School of law. Her most recent achievements include being awarded the Book Award in both Legal Storytelling and Persuasion and Space Law. Book Awards honor academic achievement by recognizing the top student in each course.