INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock recently addressed what he referred to as misinformation regarding the organization in the media and critics of the Red Notice system who claim it has become a tool of repressive states. 

In an op-ed published in Euronews, Mr. Stock reiterated that Red Notices are a key tool for cooperation among countries to locate and arrest an individual who has committed a crime. This is obviously true; it is also true that this tool provides an opportunity for abuse by ill-intentioned actors and that the need for reform will likely remain constant.

INTERPOL Reform Efforts

In 2016, two years into his new role as INTERPOL’s Secretary General, Jürgen Stock, along with the General Assembly and the Executive Committee, made a series of reforms to address accountability issues after a tumultuous decade and a half that resulted in numerous arrests in cases that critics say were politically motivated.

The organization added the Notices and Diffusions Task Force (NDTF), composed of lawyers, police officers, and operations specialists, to pre-review Red Notices and carry out a quality and legal compliance review prior to a notice’s authorization. Mr. Stock also tightened records requirements, added a data protection officer, and strengthened the internal review commission. 

In the opinion piece referenced previously, Mr. Stock aimed to remind readers that critics often claim certain countries abuse INTERPOL for political reasons, but he does not believe this to be true. “Although Interpol is a technical policing organisation, we are not blind to geopolitical realities. Red Notices are not issued in an information vacuum,” Mr. Stock wrote in his op-ed.

For example, in October 2022, INTERPOL rejected India’s second request to issue a Red Notice against Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, founder of Sikhs for Justice, a U.S.-based group seeking a separate homeland for Sikhs. INTERPOL rejected the alert on terror charges stating Punnun’s activities have a “clear political dimension,” according to the Wire. 

Mr. Stock also states that in 2021, 483 out of 23,716 alerts were refused because they were believed to be political by nature, alluding to INTERPOL’s increased accountability and transparency, demonstrating the effectiveness of Mr. Stock’s reforms. 

The next post will further address reform efforts and how effective they may be for INTERPOL as well as individuals. 

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

*Thanks to guest author, Ingrid Matteini, B.S. candidate 2025, Georgetown University