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Can an INTERPOL Red Notice be Removed?

posted 6 years ago

Red Notices issued by the International Criminal Police Organization
(INTERPOL) are an important global tool in tracking and arresting criminals who
have fled the jurisdiction of a state.

But Red Notices can be open to corruption. They are not always issued on
a genuine legal basis, and there may be certain circumstances where a notice
should be removed or amended.

There are a number of methods that can be employed to challenge Red

What is a Red Notice?

A Red Notice is an electronic alert published by the INTERPOL General
Secretariat seeking the detention, arrest or general restriction of movement of
a wanted person. Generally, a Red Notice is issued at the request of a National
Central Bureau (NCB), which is the outward-facing branch of a country’s law
enforcement that liaises with INTERPOL and other international police

It is one of seven different color notices that can be issued by
INTERPOL. These include Blue Notices, which seek information in relation to a
person’s identity or their connection to a crime, and Yellow Notices, which are
aimed at locating missing persons. However, Red Notices are overwhelmingly the
most frequent type of notice issued by INTERPOL.

It is the issue of a Red Notice which places a person onto INTERPOL’s
internationally notorious “Most Wanted” list. In order to obtain a Red Notice,
a duly authorized arrest warrant must have been issued in accordance with the
laws of the country seeking the creation of the Red Notice.


Potential impacts of a Red Notice

However, there are several flaws with the issue of INTERPOL Red Notices,
most significantly the potential for the system to be abused by corrupt
governments and executive powers.

For example, according to the Strengthening Respect for Human
Rights, Strengthening INTERPOL
 report published by Fair Trials
International, it is not unheard of for corrupt regimes to issue Red Notices in
relation to political opponents or refugees from political or religious

This is despite the fact that according to INTERPOL’s Rules for the
Processing of Data (2012) Red Notices are not to be issued for:

Offences deemed to be related to behavioral or cultural norms.

Offences deemed to be private matters/disputes or family issues.

Offences arising from violations of administrative law.

Further, the rules require that the offence of which the person has been
accused must carry a minimum sentence of at least two years’ imprisonment, and
that person must have been sentenced to at least a six-month prison term in the
issuing country.

A Red Notice can technically be issued for a fairly minor offence, but
despite this can have a significant effect on the employment prospects,
residency status or freedom of movement of the person, even if they are not
subject to arrest.

So how can a Red Notice be removed once it has been imposed?


Methods for challenging a Red Notice

There are three commonly accepted methods for challenging Red Notices:

1.    Requesting that the
issuing country remove the information provided to INTERPOL supporting the Red
Notice. The success of this request depends entirely on the legal system of the
country which has issued the Red Notice, and should not be attempted without obtaining
appropriate jurisdictional legal advice.

2.    Requesting that the
authorities of the country in which the subject resides delete the information.
This occurs only in unusual circumstances, and again should not be attempted
without proper legal advice, potentially from an expert in the legal systems of
both the issuing state and the state of residence.

3.    Writing to the
Commission for the Control of INTERPOL and requesting the deletion of the Red
Notice. This is a highly specialized area and advice should certainly be
obtained from a qualified and experienced legal professional before this step
is attempted.

In seeking the removal of Red Notices or any other information held by
INTERPOL, it would be prudent to argue either that the issue of the Red Notice
has come about because of a political motivation, or alternatively that the
consequences of return to the issuing country would be heinous – such as
torture or the imposition of a death penalty on a minor.

If an attempt at having a Red Notice wholly deleted is unsuccessful, the
Commission for the Control of INTERPOL may elect to modify, caveat or make an
addendum to the Red Notice for the attention of law enforcement agencies
internationally. Alternatively, it may be determined that the Red Notice is to
remain in situ.

There is no right of appeal to the decision of the Commission for the
Control of INTERPOL.



Red Notices are a powerful but sometimes unwieldy tool in INTERPOL’s
arsenal when attempting to secure international cooperation between law
enforcement agencies.

Given the potential consequences of a Red Notice, particularly in a
global system with a significant disparity in legal ethics and principles, it
is important to be aware of the methods by which it may be deleted or otherwise

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