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.

Earlier this year, the issue of Michael Misick’s Red Notice was addressed here.  The next two posts are updates on Mr. Misick’s case. 

International police cooperation results in arrest of former Turks and Caicos Premier Michael Misick

Former Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) Premier Michael Misick was arrested in Brazil on December 7, 2012 while at Rio de Janeiro’s domestic airport.  TCI is an overseas  territory of the United Kingdom, and its government has confirmed that it will seek the extradition of Mr. Misick.

Both Brazil and the United Kingdom are member countries of INTERPOL.  Their National Central Bureaus (NCBs) are in Rio de Janeiro and London, respectively, and the NCBs are the countries’ liaisons with INTERPOL’s headquarters in Lyon, France. The United Kingdom also maintains an INTERPOL sub-bureau in TCI.

Background of charges

Mr. Misick is wanted by officials in TCI for questioning on corruption allegations, as originally reported by Jacqueline Charles in the Miami Herald, here.  The investigation, which has already resulted in the arrest of other government officials, centers on the allegedly fraudulent distribution of government land, money laundering, and corruption.  Mr. Misick fled TCI and was reportedly seeking political asylum from what he claims is political persecution.

Brazilian authorities reportedly gave Mr. Misick permission to work while in the country and while his asylum petition was pending.  However, as reported here, that request was denied and the INTERPOL Red Notice triggered detention and extradition proceedings in Brazil.

Interpol notices function differently from arrest warrants

INTERPOL’s notices, particularly Red Notices, are often an inaccurately referred to as “international arrest warrants.”  A Red Notice issued by INTERPOL is a tool used by member countries to aid in detecting, detaining, and extraditing internationally wanted persons. 

INTERPOL does not dictate that its member countries arrest red notice subjects.  Each INTERPOL member country is left to determine how it will react to finding a Red Notice subject.  Many countries immediately detain the subject, while others monitor him or her and only execute a detention when a domestic warrant is issued based on the Red Notice.  Other countries have been known to completely ignore the notice, as happened recently in Afghanistan.

In the United States, once an international fugitive is discovered, the case is assigned to an Assistant United States Attorney. Assuming that all of the requisite documentation is in order, that attorney obtains an arrest warrant for the fugitive from a federal judge or magistrate in the district where the fugitive is believed to be located.  At that point, a detention and extradition process is authorized.

In Mr. Misick’s case, the Red Notice served to alert Brazilian authorities as to his wanted status in TCI.  Although Brazil apparently gave Mr. Misick temporary legal status and entertained his asylum claim, a domestic warrant for his arrest ultimately resulted in just that.  

In the next post, look for a discussion on Mr. Misick’s claim of political motivation that his lawyers are expected to advance, and INTERPOL’s policy regarding such claims.

Today’s post is directed specifically towards those individuals who have been Red Notice subjects and their lawyers.  Red Notice Law Journal often receives inquiries from people who are currently dealing with INTERPOL-related matters.  For a change, I’d like to ask for a review from those who have finished with their Red Notice experiences.  For those of you who fit that description, we would love to hear from you on any topics such as the following:

  • What was the nature of the charge in your case?
  • Was there a political element to the case?
  • Was the charge justified?
  • Which member country requested your Red Notice?
  • How did you find out about your Red Notice?
  • How long did you wait before challenging your Red Notice?
  • What was the outcome of your case?
  • What were the “side effects” on your life of having a Red Notice in your name?

In any other area of the law, finding the answers to such questions is as easy as researching the applicable legal database.  As most of you with INTERPOL experience know, INTERPOL’s files and activities regarding individual cases are not ordinarily subject to public view.  Aside from the anecdotal evidence that we happen upon in a piecemeal fashion, extensive case information is typically unavailable.  

So we ask regarding your collective INTERPOL experiences:  How was it for you?

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

Today was a great day for transparency and political freedom.  INTERPOL refused to allow the Red Notices as requested by Egypt against the non-governmental workers who are currently sought for prosecution in Egypt.  In so doing, INTERPOL issued a press release that was heartening for two reasons:

  1. It confirmed its dedication to its constitution, which clearly prohibits intervention in political matters.  This was a highly publicized and pressure-intensive case, and INTERPOL did the right thing in a relatively short period of time.
  2. INTERPOL offered to receive fact-checking inquiries from anyone regarding specific cases where INTERPOL’s involvement is suspected, but not known.  The purpose of the offer is to avoid speculation and rumour about INTERPOL’s involvement in such matters.  INTERPOL’s availablity for verification of information is critical for journalists, lawyers, and others who closely follow INTERPOL-related activities.  Absent such availability, speculation is often the only alternative.

Congratulations to the NGO’s, and good on ya to INTERPOL.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

 

Since we have been on the issue of the ease with which Red Notices often seem to be obtained by INTERPOL member countries, today’s discussion centers on the burden of proof faced by Red Notice subjects and their lawyers.  

Once it is issued, a Red Notice is presumed to be accurate and proper, according to INTERPOL’s rules.  In order to overcome that presumption, substantial and competent evidence must be presented to show precisely which rules or laws have been violated.

When an NCB has complied with all of the rules governing INTERPOL member countries, this presumption may be fair.  But when a member country has engaged in illegal behavior or has a consistent record of human rights violations, the idea that the member country enjoys such a presumption is a bit hard to stomach.

In order to be successful in their challenges, Red Notice subjects and their attorneys are required to obtain credible evidence of the illegalities and/or rules violations in their cases.  The evidence must be presented in a clear, cogent, and persuasive manner, and then the subject must wait for a decision.  If that evidence cannot be found, it can be quite difficult to prevail on a request for a Red Notice removal or modification.

As to the question of whether that burden is fair, NCB’s would likely think it is.  Red Notice subjects, however, probably disagree.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.