This week, I received a post idea from Rutsel Silvestre J. Martha, of Lindeborg Counsellors at Law. Mr. Martha is a highly respected expert on international law and his 2010 book, The Legal Foundations of INTERPOL, was one of my earliest sources of instruction regarding all things INTERPOL when I began this area of practice over a decade ago.

In response to a post on the numerous ways in which an individual might catch the attention of INTERPOL, he suggested that I explain how the FIND and MIND databases work, which would in turn explain how even a traffic stop can lead to an arrest. Mr. Martha’s idea is a good one, because many Red Notice subjects are actually law-abiding people, and the way that most law-abiding individuals come into contact with law enforcement officials is through routine traffic stops.

FIND and MIND are acronyms for Mobile INTERPOL Network Database (MIND) and the Fixed INTERPOL Network Database (FIND). These databases were implemented in 2005. They facilitate searches of people, motor vehicles, and documents at international transit or other points. FIND provides access to an active online database, and MIND provides access to an offline database, which is periodically downloaded in an updated form every 24 to 48 hours.

The databases can be accessed by officials at the border or in the field, which makes it easier for officers on the road (see second photo under 2005) to know when they have encountered a person who is wanted by INTERPOL.

In addition to aiding in the detection of Red Notice subjects, the MIND/FIND databases also seem to bear a relationship to decreased terrorist attacks in the countries that utilize them. The databases have been the subjects of several academic studies, including a 2015 study published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. This study, conducted by Javier Gardeazabal and Todd Sandler,  found that countries that had implemented the FIND/MIND databases also experienced a comparatively fewer transnational terrorist attacks.

An earlier study showed that the initial cost for the databases was inexpensive relative to the value of the service provided, but not all eligible countries participated. Simultaneously, some countries that were initially not expected to utilize the service, such as Bosnia/Herzegovina, Syria, Guatemala, and the Russian Federation, did implement them.  Some of those countries received external funding support for the databases, and that may have played a role in their decision to utilize MIND/FIND.

The use of the FIND/MIND system allows officers to look up an individual’s information without having to go directly to an I-24/7 portal or involve the country’s National Central Bureau in the query, which obviously saves time for local police departments. This allows the more ready access to INTERPOL’s system that could result in a routine traffic stop becoming a Red Notice “hit.”

Thanks to Mr. Martha for his suggestion. As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

I have a client whose Red Notice was recently blocked by INTERPOL. Blocking is an interim measure that an attorney or client can request while the case is being studied by INTERPOL. When this happens, the notice is not visible to INTERPOL’s member countries, and no detention or extradition activity should be taken in relation to that Red Notice while it is blocked.

The specific country from which the notice originated is also notified that the notice is blocked. In my practice, clients from member countries such as Ecuador, Egypt, Palestine, Russia, and Venezuela have sought and obtained the blocking of a Red Notice while their cases were being studied. Occasionally, INTERPOL will decide on its own to block a notice.

It is possible that a Red Notice will not be removed after an initial decision by the CCF to block the notice. Frequently, however, the reason for the notice being blocked is that the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files (“CCF”) is concerned that something about the underlying case or the notice itself violates INTERPOL’s rules. If the CCF determines after fully studying the case that its initial concerns are valid, the CCF will recommend the removal of the notice.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

Red Notices are viewed as being at least theoretically valid based upon the requirement that they be approved by the General Secretariat prior to acceptance and/or publication by INTERPOL.

Another animal entirely is the diffusion. A diffusion is a notice shared by any one of INTERPOL’S member countries with the other member countries. It is comparable to a BOLO (be on the lookout), as we would say in the States.

A diffusion might be used, for example, if the Republic of South Korea were to inform member countries Sweden or Cameroon that South Korea is looking for an individual specifically in those countries, or if it seeks to share information only with those countries regarding an individual.

A diffusion often contains information similar to a Red Notice, is circulated via INTERPOL’s I-24/7 secure police communications network, and it might be sent to all member countries, or only to specific member countries.

The major difference between a diffusion and a Red Notice is that the General Secretariat does not review or approve a diffusion prior to its being disseminated to other member countries.

This distinction is critical because the lack of review may allow diffusions to be circulated that would otherwise be denied circulation if they were Red Notice requests. For example, if basic judicial information is missing from a diffusion, that absence of information is improper, but will not prevent its circulation because no review is required for a diffusion. This distinction means that diffusions that violate INTERPOL’s rules can and do get circulated undetected until they cause a problem for the subject of the diffusion.

As always, comments and thoughts are welcomed.

 

 

 

 

 

One of the most personal aspects of an INTERPOL case concerns a Red Notice subject’s decision about attorney representation. On that topic, a reader sent in the following question:

“Can a termination of legal representation of a lawyer after the submission of the application form to the CCF (deletion request) and before the first review by the Commission of the file automatically lead to the dismissal of the Application on a procedural basis?”

This reader has clearly already hired an attorney who has submitted a request for removal of a Red Notice, and the case is now in the process of being reviewed by the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files (“CCF”).

The answer to the question is no. An applicant’s choice of which attorney, or whether to hire an attorney, or where the attorney is located, on an INTERPOL matter should have no effect at all on the CCF’s evaluation of the case. This is true, regardless of whether, for example, a client’s new attorney is in India and the client’s old attorney is in the United States or China.

However, if a change in counsel is made and a new power of attorney is executed for a new attorney to act on the subject’s behalf, the CCF must be advised of that change so that it has the correct contact information on file when it comes time to send out its decision or other correspondence.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

Some Red Notice subjects are surprised when I tell them that they should not hire me to seek the removal of their names from INTERPOL’s wanted list. There are times when the best course of action is not to go to INTERPOL for relief, at least, not as a first effort. This post addresses those situations.

For a variety of reasons, the optimal place to resolve a dispute is at its origin. For example, if a person is wanted in the United Kingdom, chances are that the evidence, witnesses, and lawyers who have worked on the case are also found there. On a relative scale, the judicial process in the UK is more likely than many other places to include proper respect for an individual’s due process rights. For Red Notice subjects wanted by NCB Manchester, it will often make the most sense to at least attempt to resolve the criminal case in the UK prior embarking on a Red Notice removal effort. The resolution of the local case will also resolve the Red Notice.

On the other hand, a Red Notice subject who is wanted in Russia, Turkey, or Venezuela, or another jurisdiction with an abysmal record of human rights violations, may justifiably believe that her case will not be fairly resolved at its origin. Even with legitimate concerns about the danger of due process violations, many Red Notice subjects do try to reach a resolution of a criminal case in the jurisdiction where it originated. Those efforts sometimes succeed, and sometimes are met with bribery attempts, extortion efforts, or harassment of family members. In these situations, seeking the removal of a Red Notice is often the best course of action.

The strategy behind when to make a Red Notice removal request obviously varies from person to person and from case to case. It may be that simultaneous actions in varying venues is appropriate, and it may be preferable to schedule a series of actions  with the client’s goals and resource allocation preferences in mind. The critical element is that these issues are discussed, addressed, and decided upon in advance of taking any action.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

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For people who find themselves the subject of Red Notices, it seems that the more questions they ask, the more confused they become.  Part of this phenomenon is due to the nature of INTERPOL:  it can be difficult to digest the verbiage used by INTERPOL, and the organization’s processes and rules are not exactly intuitive.

A few of the questions that may arise for Red Notice subjects are:

How can INTERPOL issue a Red Notice against me when it’s obvious that the charges are false?  INTERPOL allows its member countries to request or issue Red Notices if certain application criteria are met.  Those criteria do not include proof of guilt (although a record of a conviction is acceptable to INTERPOL as well.)  INTERPOL acts as an information conduit, not as a court that determines guilt or innocence.  This question is addressed in more detail in a previous post, here.

Can a lawyer help me?  It depends.  If your case was processed properly and all of the relevant rules, laws, and texts were followed, then no.  Your Red Notice was validly issued and you likely would have no claim for relief.  On the other hand, if the information regarding you was processed in violation of any of the applicable rules, laws, or texts, then you may have a valid claim for relief with INTERPOL, and a competent lawyer can assist you with that claim.

How long will INTERPOL take to respond to an application for relief?  The normal response time is four to nine months.  Occasionally, the CCF will need more time to decide a case,  depending on the complexity of your claim and the need for INTERPOL to seek information from the relevant country’s National Central Bureau (NCB) regarding the matters raised in your claim.  It often takes longer for the CCF to decide the case than it took to prepare the removal request. Therefore, if you have a Red Notice issue, waiting to address it only adds more time to the final resolution of the matter.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

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.