As most followers of Russian news know by now, opposition leader and activist Alexei Navalny was detained immediately upon his recent return to Russia, after a 5-month absence due to his recovery in Germany from nerve agent poisoning. It is widely suspected that the Russian Security Service (FSB) is responsible for the poisoning, though officials have denied any role in the attack.

Navalny’s detention has drawn nationwide criticism and unprecedented protests. Waves of protesters continued to take to the streets, openly and aggressively challenging President Putin’s authority, despite massive arrests. The protests are not just about Navalny- the Russian people appear to be at a boiling point over continued human rights violations in general, and about President Putin’s reportedly lavish lifestyle specifically.

And while it initially appeared that the protests would lead to renewed interest in European sanctions against Russia, it now seems that talk of sanctions is on hold.

Bill Browder, the outspoken Putin critic, and force majeure behind the U.S. Magnitsky Act pointed out that the European Union is still planning to send its foreign policy chief to Moscow next month and that the discussions about the contemplated EU version of the Magnitsky Act are not immediately going forward. Browder sees the writing on the wall for a “total EU capitulation.”

So how does all this relate to INTERPOL and Red Notices? It is well-known that Russian INTERPOL abuse is a global problem. The American Security Project correctly pointed out in 2019 (see the previous link) that Russian officials use INTERPOL to enlist other countries’ assistance in oppressing political opponents:

… [R]ather than engaging in cloak and dagger tactics, the Kremlin has another largely “legal” way of dealing with enemies outside its borders. Using Interpol, it has found a way to elicit the cooperation of foreign governments in hunting down or detaining its adversaries.

One of the criteria that INTERPOL considers in determining whether a Red Notice is politically motivated or not is the position taken on the matter by other INTERPOL member countries.

Thus, if European countries refuse to openly address and condemn Russia’s human rights abuses, they also miss an opportunity to distinguish themselves as countries that honor their commitment to upholding the human and due process rights that they committed to when they joined INTERPOL. They miss the opportunity to send a signal to INTERPOL that they will not cooperate with Russian authorities who obtain invalid Red Notices against political opposition members, journalists, or dissidents. They miss the opportunity to simply do better at protecting human beings from political persecution.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

In the last post, I discussed  the case of a man who had been placed into removal proceedings by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

That case provided an example of how contact with law enforcement officials for the most basic reason can and does sometimes allow a Red Notice subject to be detected. Something as simple as a traffic stop can result in a detention of a Red Notice subject, and eventually, his deportation.

However, if the subject in our example case had 1) already filed the necessary petition with DHS and 2) had a valid basis to request the removal of the Red Notice and 3) had already begun that process with INTERPOL, his case might have gone differently.

When a Red Notice subject is asked about a Red Notice by an immigration court, the subject is always in a better position if he has already begun working to remove the notice. Providing the immigration judge with a thorough, evidence-based explanation of a case allows the judge to determine whether a bond should be granted for a Red Notice subject, and also allows the judge to determine whether the Red Notice should- or should not- stand in the way of an petition for immigration relief. It is much more likely that a judge will grant a request if the judge is fully informed about the underlying case.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

 

One of the most common concerns of people who are Red Notice subjects is how to live in peace while they seek the removal of their Red Notices, a process that can takes many months to complete. The most common ways that people are detected when they are Red Notice subjects include:

  • International travel via airplane or sea vessel
  • Immigration proceedings requiring background checks
  • Contact with domestic law enforcement officials

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently published a report that provides an example of how contact with domestic law enforcement officials can result in the detection of a Red Notice subject.  In the case highlighted by DHS, police stopped a man for a traffic offense, and the man was arrested for driving without a driver’s license.

At some point, police learned that the man was the subject of a Red Notice because he was wanted in his home country of El Salvador for alleged gang activity. The man was then transferred out of state custody and into federal custody while he awaited removal (deportation) proceedings.

In the next post, we’ll address how things might have gone differently if the Red Notice subject in our example had handled his case differently.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

Not lost in the chaos of all things related to outgoing U.S. president Donald Trump is Iran’s recent renewed request for Mr. Trump’s arrest. As reported here, Iran is seeking the arrest and extradition of Mr. Trump in order to prosecute him for last year’s targeted killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

While it is almost unthinkable that a foreign actor could order the assassination of a U.S. military general on U.S. soil without swift repercussion, thus far Mr. Trump has avoided any consequence for the drone strike that he reportedly ordered. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions reportedly deemed the killing to be against international law.

Iran’s request for a Red Notice in Mr. Trump’s name, however, faced the expected hurdle that any Red Notice request for a sitting president would encounter: Article 3 of INTERPOL’s Constitution, which prohibits INTERPOL from becoming involved with any matter of a political nature.

National Public Radio reported that INTERPOL commented directly on this matter, and explained its refusal to issue the requested Red Notice on the grounds of Article 3:

 “it is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.”

Iran previously attempted to obtain a Red Notice for Mr. Trump and that request was denied, as well.  It remains to be seen whether another attempt is made once he leaves office.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

 

A primary concern for clients who seek to remove Red Notices from INTERPOL’s databases is what happens after they succeed in their efforts. There are many purposes for seeking the removal of a Red Notice, but a main focus for most clients is to be able to travel more easily and without the concern that they could be detained.

In my experience, it is rare for a person to be detained by authorities of INTERPOL’s member countries after a Red Notice has been removed. When INTERPOL removes a notice from its databases, it also advises its member countries’ National Central Bureaus to update their respective domestic databases. Member countries are obliged to maintain current databases in order to utilize INTERPOL’s tools. Most often, they do.

However, it has happened on occasion that a former Red Notice subject is stopped even after their Red Notice is removed.  When that has happened, my clients have presented to the authorities the CCF’s decision to remove the Red Notice, along with the letter that the CCF provides showing that their data does not exist in INTERPOL’s databases.  This has been sufficient to explain the situation to the authorities, who have then released the clients to continue with their travels.

Another step that we take in such situations is to contact the CCF and explain that the member country has failed to update its databases, and request a reminder directly from INTERPOL to the member country for the data to be updated domestically as well. While INTERPOL has no direct control over its member countries’ actions, it does have a working relationship with the NCBs and it has been supportive in our efforts to encourage countries to update their data.

It is critical that a former Red Notice subject travel with the CCF’s decision and status letter once they succeed in removing a Red Notice. There are other steps that can be taken to make travel plans go more smoothly, and I’ll address those in the next post.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

As is true for any person facing criminal charges, people who are wanted by INTERPOL are concerned about when and whether their cases will be heard and decided.

INTERPOL has announced that it will not be holding its annual meeting as scheduled this year. Originally, the General Assembly was to have been hosted by the United Arab Emirates. The annual meeting is an event wherein INTERPOL’s member countries vote on changes to rules, leadership, and review the events and progress of the last year. Those items will not be addressed until the meeting can be rescheduled.

However, this cancellation does not affect the work being done by the Commission on the Control of INTERPOL’s Files (“CCF”). The CCF has continued its work schedule as normal, and we have continued to receive decisions and updates on cases with no delays that might have been expected due to the pandemic. The CCF has made some adjustments, as we all have, that have resulted in a largely unchanged schedule of responses.

The CCF advises that its next meeting will take place in January of 2021. Red Notice subjects who submit their cases for review should expect the normal response timeline to apply.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

In the last post, we discussed the continued difficulties encountered by some people even after their Red Notices are removed from INTERPOL’s databases.

Particularly in cases where the underlying criminal charge is a financial crime, Red Notice subjects often find that INTERPOL is not the only organization that contains their personal data. Other organizations- with both domestic and international databases- collect data on individuals and then distribute that data to their customers.

Among the primary consumers of personal data based on financial activity are financial institutions and financial service providers.

Financial institutions and providers of financial services seek to avoid financially risky clients– those who may engage in activities that are illegal or financially questionable. Consequently, banks and financial service providers have come to rely on companies that provide personal data lists of people who are politically exposed, wanted for financial crimes, or listed by governmental agencies as prohibited business partners.

The companies that provide personal data lists, such as World-CheckLexisNexisRDC (Regulatory DataCorp), Bureau Van Dijk, and Dow Jones may obtain their data from media sources without independently checking the accuracy of the source’s reporting. For example,  I have had a client whose data was reported by such a company as having an open criminal case months after the criminal case was completely dropped by the authorities. This client’s data was listed and circulated to every company that subscribes to this service, and the data was incorrect and outdated.

The failure to maintain an accurate database could result in legal action against the publisher, as has happened multiple times in the case of World-Check.  Most of the publishers of the data have specific personnel assigned to correct inaccurate data. Once they are made aware of the inaccuracy, they will either remove or modify the information.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

 

 

Red Notices are designed to immobilize a person. Anyone who is the subject of an INTERPOL Red Notice cannot travel without risking detention. She often has difficulty maintaining business relationships because of the outstanding notice. When the notice is about a financial crime, the subject has the additional worry that her financial institution will sever ties with her based on its own concerns with anti-money laundering compliance laws.

When a Red Notice subject successfully applies for the removal of the Red Notice, INTERPOL does advise all of its member countries of that decision, and all member countries are requested to update their databases to reflect the change.

However, the removal of the Red Notice is sometimes not the end of the fight for many individuals. Too often, people who have proven to INTERPOL that their cases are either not truly criminal, or are politically motivated, or do not even contain a sufficient level of information to sustain a criminal charge, wind up on financial risk lists improperly, based on outdated or inaccurate information.

Financial risk lists are published by companies such as World-Check, LexisNexis, RDC (Regulatory DataCorp), Bureau Van Dijk, and Dow Jones for use by their customers who seek to minimize the risk of dealing with illegal funds or the people who conduct illegal financial activity. Unfortunately, when the publishers of financial risk lists rely on inaccurate or outdated information, they negatively affect the ability of legitimate individuals and companies to conduct business, to maintain employment, and to safeguard their reputations.

In the next post, we’ll address what people can do when they find themselves on the wrong side of an INTERPOL-related financial risk list.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

(Today’s post is courtesy of guest author and J.D. candidate Isabel Alcántara.)

 

INTERPOL’s Red Notice is not the only alert that INTERPOL’s member countries use in their efforts to locate an alleged criminal. In fact, INTERPOL issues some notices to locate people who have not been charged with a crime. INTERPOL member countries might request a Blue Notice, for example, in hopes of locating a witness to a crime, or people related to an alleged offender. RNLJ has addressed Blue Notices before, here.

A Blue Notice was recently requested by NCB New Delhi (India’s National Central Bureau ) against the promoter of Winsome Diamonds, a Mumbia-based company that manufactures diamonds for export. The promoter, Mr. Jatin Mehta, is sought in connection with a dispute regarding a loan default.

The sequence of events that led to the Blue Notice request is somewhat unusual due to the fact that the NCB New Delhi previously requested a Red Notice against Mr. Mehta in 2018. The complainant alleged that:

“[Winsome Diamonds] purchased gold from three bullion banks abroad—Bank of Nova Scotia, Standard Bank and Standard Chartered Bank—on the basis of guarantees from the Indian bank…and [supposedly] failed to make the payment for gold imported on the strength of the guarantees.”

Ultimately, INTERPOL refused to issue the Red Notice against Mr. Mehta.

Following INTERPOL’s decision to invalidate the Red Notice request, Indian authorities recently requested that a Blue Notice be circulated in Jatin Mehta’s name instead. INTERPOL’s denial of a Red Notice does not bar a member country from requesting a different type of notice in its place.

The Blue Notice could aid authorities in confirming Mr. Mehta’s location, but it does not contain a request or authorization for his arrest.

While this case appears to contain the element of a private, civil business dispute for failure to fulfill the terms of a contract, Indian authorities also believe that a criminal element exists in the case. Their utilization of a Blue Notice in furtherance of their investigation may allow authorities to track Mr. Mehta’s whereabouts, and it may ultimately lead to sufficient grounds for a Red Notice.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.