In this series, Red Notice Law Journal addresses the changes created by the newly enacted CCF statute. Many of the changes are reflective of those requested by INTERPOL practitioners and by human rights organizations in the last several years. For example, Fair Trials International provided input that was instrumental in advocating for INTERPOL reform, and many of its recommendations made their way into the new statute.

As an attorney representing clients who have been frustrated in the past by the perception of a lack of clarity and transparency in the CCF’s processes, I have also recommended changes to the CCF’s response format and the depth of information and transparency contained in those responses. The CCF’s new statutory obligation to publish its decisions, as discussed here, is one of the most welcome changes of all.

In addition to the CCF embracing its own new obligations under the statute, the CCF is also now more clear about one of the obligations of Red Notice subjects seeking relief from the CCF after previously being denied relief from the organization. Previously, the applicable rules only made reference to a general notion, addressed here, that successive requests for relief could be denied if they were deemed substantially similar to previous requests or if the CCF viewed the requests as being abusive of the CCF’s processes.

Now, however, the statute provides a clear statement of how successive requests will be reviewed, or not. Article 42 of the statute provides that

(1) Applications for the revision of decisions of
the Requests Chamber may be made only
when they are based on the discovery of facts
which could have led the Requests Chamber
to a different conclusion if that fact had been
known at the time at which the request was
being processed.
(2) Applications for revision must be made within
six months after the discovery of the fact.

The applicant therefore has clear guidance as to when a renewed request is admissible and when it is not. This specification obviously places a burden on the applicant, but every legal or quasi-legal body has procedural requirements, and the fact that individuals who apply to the CCF for relief now have more clear guidance renders the process more predictable, and therefore, more fair.

As always questions or comments are welcomed.

As discussed in the last post, here, INTERPOL’s new rules governing the CCF took effect in March. From a practitioner’s standpoint, among the more significant changes is the CCF’s new task of publishing its opinions and providing reasoning for them.

The CCF is now required to “endeavour to make its decisions, opinions, recommendations and
reports public in all working languages of the Organization.”

This language of the statute is devoid of hard deadlines or methods of publication- there are no assurances that the CCF’s decisions will be published monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc. In fact, there is not the requirement that the CCF actually publishes an opinion- simply that it must endeavor to do so.

However, the publication provision in the statute is still good news. This marks the first time that the CCF has obliged itself to even contemplate creating a public repository of opinions, and that would be a very useful thing for both the CCF and practitioners for a couple of reasons:

  • Published decisions allow practicioners to better understand the CCF’s analytical process and the weight that the CCF gives to various types of arguments.  Until now, we have been limited to reviewing our own cases or the relatively few media cases to gain insight as to the CCF’s deliberative process.
  • Published decisions allow the CCF to receive better prepared requests for relief. An informed practitioner is an effective practitioner.

Now, we wait to see how and when this new practice will take effect.

Next time: new rule on the how quickly an attorney must act on the discovery of new information in an applicant’s case.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

Last November, at the annual meeting held under the direction of INTERPOL’s newest Secretary General, Jürgen Stock, the organization adopted new rules to be applied to its quasi-appellate body, the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files (“CCF”).  This change marks the first time since 2012 that INTERPOL and the CCF have undergone such a substantive change in the rules.

The new rules are set forth in the “Statute of the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files,” the purpose of  which is to define the work of the CCF.  The changes in the CCF are both procedural and substantive.  We’ll address the most significant differences in the next several posts, and today will begin with one of my favorites and something that almost no one ever asks for: more lawyers.

In the context of the CCF, more lawyers is good.  Up until now, the CCF has been comprised of five members, who are required to include: one chairperson who has held a senior judicial or data protection post; two data protection experts having held senior positions in that field; an electronic data processing expert having held a senior position in that field; and an expert with international experience in international police co-operation.  While some attorneys have held the positions, there has not been an absolute requirement that attorneys be appointed. Consequently, the Commission members’ experience in or interest in international human rights issues, criminal law fundamentals, and international judicial matters have not been required.

Now, however, the new Statute re-defines the makeup of the CCF.  There will now be two chambers that comprise the CCF:

The Supervisory and Advisory Chamber, responsible for:

  • ensuring compliance of personal data with INTERPOL’s rules, and
  • assisting INTERPOL with advise on projects, rules, and oeprations regarding the processing of personal data.

The Requests Chamber, responsible for:

  • examining and deciding on requests for access to and removal or correction of data.

The Requests Chamber is required to include five lawyers, one of each with expertise in data protection, international police cooperation, international criminal law, human rights issues, and one with judicial or prosecutorial experience.

While the CCF has already staffed very capable attorneys who work on the data requests, this is the first time that the members of the Commission will be required to be attorneys as well.  This change is indicative of a higher commitment by Commission members to the examination and understanding of legal arguments and theories, and should make the work of the CCF’s staff attorneys less burdensome in terms of pre-session preparation of cases.

The inclusion of attorneys on the CCF will also assist in accomplishing one of the other new requirements of the CCF: to provide reasoned and published opinions.  More on this topic next time.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

As we discussed in the last post, INTERPOL’s new rules are called the Rules on the Processing of Data (RPD) and will become effective July 1, 2012.  Among the changes from the old rules, and of interest to Red Notice subjects and their attorneys, will be the following:

  • Better organization of topics in a more streamlined layout
  • Additional responsibilities (and repurcussions for failing to observe those responsibilites) for the National Central Bureaus (NCB’s).
  • More clearly delineated distance between the roles and functions of NCB’s and INTERPOL.

Obviously, ease of reading the rules is particularly important when navigating INTERPOL.  That change doesn’t require much more discussion as far as how it will affect attorneys.  Suffice to say that a more intuitive approach to setting forth the rules makes for a more organized approach to preparing every case.

The changes regarding the NCB’s are significant.  The RPD create enhanced responsibilities to which the NCB’s must adhere regarding employee training, observation of country-specific legal requirements, and data protection and entry.  Where NCB’s embrace the new rules, there will be little room for complaint.  However, where the rules are violated, challenges will likely include those violations as grounds for relief.  NCB’s have ample reason to carefully review the new rules:  violation of the rules carries penalties such as re-training, supervision, and finally, suspension from accessing INTERPOL’s tools.

One of the rule changes will have an effect that is more difficult to predict:  built into the new rules is an obvious effort to create distance between the NCB’s and INTERPOL.  It’s no secret that INTERPOL intends to maintain its status as an international organization generally not subject to lawsuits in member country courts.  As INTERPOL’s reach expands and more people suffer the effects of improperly issued Red Notices, the drumbeat to hold INTERPOL accountable for aiding improperly acting member countries grows louder.  The new rules are absolutely meant to hold that movement at bay.  Whether it succeeds or not, only time will tell.  



As INTERPOL has evolved over the years, it has developed varying bodies of rules to address the issues that arise when a small network of information-sharing law enforcement agencies becomes a massive international entity with control over sensitive information originating from every corner of the globe.

One of the most current matters relating to INTERPOL’s internal governance is its adoption of the Rules on the Processing of Data (RPD), which become effective on July 1, 2012.  While the new RPD do not completely replace all existing INTERPOL rules, they do serve to consolidate, clarify, and update three sets of current rules, titled as follows:  

1.  The Rules of Processing Information for the Purpose of International Police Co-operation

2. The Implementing Rules for the Rules of Processing Information for the Purposes of International Police Co-operation

3. The Rules Governing Access by Intergovernmental Organizations to INTERPOL Telecommunications     Network and Databases.

(Let us pause a moment to recognize the irony of the above-referenced, typical government-issue titles, given INTERPOL’s jealously guarded non-governmental status.)  

As INTERPOL has groomed itself into an increasingly effective information-sharing entity, with an increasing number of member countries, its responsibilities have also grown.  For example, while INTERPOL has always acknowledged its responsibility to protect the personal data of individuals, the components of that responsibility have changed as INTERPOL’s tools have become more widely available and more automated. 

In the next post will be a continued discussion of these related topics: the focus of new rules; NCB’s additional responsibilities; and the creation of distance between INTERPOL and NCB’s.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

Uganda’s acting director of its national liaison agency with INTERPOL has reportedly stated that the Ugandan authority charged with providing INTERPOL with accurate information is not complying with that obligation. Moreover, Mr.  Benson Oyo-Nyeko has requested that citizens themselves take responsibility for correcting the government’s inaction.

New Vision, a leading Ugandan news source, reported Mr. Nyeko’s request that individuals come forth to prove that their charges have been resolved in order for Uganda’s National Central Bureau to correct its records:

Nyeko says once a person is cleared of his offences, CID takes the responsibility to write to Interpol and asks them to clear the person from the system. However, CID does not do it so it’s important for one to personally follow up to clear his or her name. 

The CID is Uganda’s Criminal Investigation Department, and is the agency that requests Red Notices through INTERPOL.

INTERPOL’s rules very clearly require its member countries to update their information in INTERPOL’s databases. This duty includes the obligation to advise INTERPOL to remove people from the Red Notice wanted list once their cases are resolved. While it is disturbing to know that Uganda’s official in charge of compliance is confirming publicly that the CID is not meeting its mandate, it is perhaps even more disturbing to realize that his solution to the crisis- and it is a crisis- is not to require compliance but to shift the burden onto citizens.

This means that INTERPOL is on notice that one of its member countries is actively and willfully out of compliance with its rules:

Article 81: Suspension, withdrawal or cancellation of a notice

(1) The requesting National Central Bureau or international entity can suspend its cooperation request or its alert for a period not exceeding six months. It shall indicate the reasons for this suspension to the General Secretariat, which will then suspend the notice.

(2) The National Central Bureau or international entity requesting a notice shall withdraw its cooperation request or its alert and ask the General Secretariat to cancel the notice immediately: (a) once the purpose of this request or alert has been achieved…

A swift, public, and meaningful response is the only course of action that would allow INTERPOL to maintain its integrity and obligation to its rules.

As always, questions and comments are welcomed.


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.

INTERPOL’s Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files (CCF) recently finished its last session under the governance of INTERPOL’s existing rules.  The CCF began and completed its session in late May. Several of INTERPOL’s governing sets of rules will be abrogated by the new Rules on the Processing of Data, which become effective on July 1, 2012.

Of course, we all wonder if the Commissioners and the CCF staff were wistful during that last session? Was it a bittersweet time as they reviewed requests?  Will they miss the old rules come next session? Were there tears?  Alas, we will likely be left in suspense about those questions and have to wait until the 2012 Annual Report is issued next year to find out the CCF’s perspective on life under the new rules.  (The 2011 Annual Report is due out this month, and is reasonable to assume that the 2012 Report will be released under the same time frame next year.)

I, for one, welcome the new rules, as I imagine other INTERPOL attorneys do.  The rules, while not replacing all of the existing rules, certainly go a long way toward reorganization and simplification of the three sets of rules that they do replace.  More significantly, in addition to the change in format, there are substantive changes to the rules that should result in increased accountability of member National Central Bureaus- more on that in the next post.

So, for now, we will bid adieu to the old rules and look forward to the implementation of the new.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.


The following post was originally published in March of 2011.  What a disappointment to see how Egypt has come to view its INTERPOL-related obligations. 

For those of us who are proponents of democracy, it has been mesmerizing to watch from afar the developments in Egypt recently. Like everyone, I wonder how the fledgling democracy will work for the people of Egypt, and whether they will be better off, as we all hope.

Perhaps unlike everyone except for other INTERPOL-philes, I also wonder what this means for the future of Egypt-originated Red Notices. Egypt was one of the founding member countries of INTERPOL and has a long history of both requesting and offering assistance with Red Notice subjects. How will the altered Egyptian government handle future requests for Red Notices? Will it be more or less observant of the rules designed to prevent political abuses of the judicial system?

Although the requirements for a Red Notice are inflexible and consistent, the individuals who request the Red Notices are still human, with all the biases that accompany the human condition. When we consider the information publicized by INTERPOL, we may not always consider its veracity, its reliability, or its very legality.

We should. The information publicized by INTERPOL is presumed to be accurate primarily due to the rigorous prerequisites to which the information is supposed to be subject prior to publication. When a national central bureau of any given participating country submits information to INTERPOL, the organization relies upon its General Secretariat to verify that the information is correct, but also that it was obtained legally. For the information to be gained legally, it must be obtained not only in compliance with INTERPOL’s various governing documents, but also with the requesting country’s laws.

But what happens if the requesting country doesn’t comply with its own laws when, say, issuing an arrest warrant? If an arrest warrant is issued illegally in Egypt, and Egypt’s National Central Bureau (NCB) accepts the information and forwards it to the General Secretariat of INTERPOL, that arrest warrant can be published internationally. The General Secretariat relies upon each member country’s representation that the information it submits is validly and legally obtained.

Even though the subject of the Red Notice has the ability to challenge the notice, the proper issuance of the notice is of critical significance because of the presumption of correctness which accompanies its issuance. A defensive challenge to a Red Notice begins with the presumption that the Notice has been properly issued, and that hurdle must be overcome by the challenging party. As noted by Mark Leon Goldberg of the UN Dispatch, INTERPOL is concerned with more than Julian Assange.  Most of the subjects of its Red Notices lack Assange’s considerable resources with which to challenge their Notices. If a Red Notice is issued without being truly subject to the rigors of INTERPOL’s prerequisites, not only is the integrity of INTERPOL damaged, but the person named in the Notice is substantially prejudiced before his attack on the notice ever begins.

My hope, like that of many others, is that Egypt’s people ultimately experience a democratic form of government, and one that is observant of its international, as well as domestic responsibilities to justice. Given the level of civility, respect, and civic responsibility shown by the citizens of Egypt during their protests, I’m guessing that any government that is truly reflective of the wishes of the Egyptian people will handle its international policing activities in true accordance with INTERPOL’s constitution and governing documents. 

As always, comments and thoughts are welcomed.

Egypt’s recent diffusion action against NGO staffers is not exactly the start we hoped to see a year ago.


In the previous post, I addressed the issue of a Blue Notice that had been issued by INTERPOL in the name of Ramona Bautista, who is under investigation for a crime alleged to have occurred in the Philippines. Today, the topic is how a Blue Notice request from a member country could be denied by INTERPOL.

Although the purpose of a Blue Notice (to monitor the movements of a criminal witness or suspect) is different from a Red Notice (to immobilize a criminal defendant or convict), these different notices have similiarities.  Specifically, they must be made in compliance with INTERPOL’s governing rules and texts.

Just as with a Red Notice, INTERPOL might refuse to issue a Blue Notice if its rules or binding texts would be violated by issuing the requested notice.  For example, in 2009, INTERPOL refused a request by member country Ecuador.

Ecuador had requested a Blue Notice in the name of Colombia’s former Minister of Defense (and current president), Juan Manuel Santos Calderon.  INTERPOL denied the request, and as grounds for the denial stated that the request was of a predominantly political and military nature.  INTERPOL’s constitution prohibits the organization from interfering in any such matters, and that prohibition naturally includes Blue Notice requests.

INTERPOL’s decision did not sit well with some authority figures in Ecuador, who publicly criticized the refusal to issue the Blue Notice.  INTERPOL eventually issued a public statement defending its decision, which reitereated the political and military nature of the request, and emphasized INTERPOL’s commitment to neutrality.

It even went so far as to state that if Ecuador didn’t like the decision, it could appeal to the Executive Committee or eventually to the entire General Assembly.   Eventually, the two countries began a normalization of relations, but the relationship is unstable and has shown recent indications of strain.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.