The Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s files (CCF) is responsible for ensuring that the processing of data in INTERPOL’s files meets the organisation’s applicable legal requirements. We present a summary of a case from 2017 in which the CCF reviewed a request to delete an INTERPOL Red Notice.
- The Applicant is a national of Country B, and a prominent business executive who was the director of two companies at the time.
- He was the subject of an Interpol Red Notice request from the National Central Bureau (NCB) of Country A, on the basis of an arrest warrant issued in Country A.
The Applicant’s request
The Applicant requested the deletion of the data concerning him registered in INTERPOL’s files, contending that:
- The case was of a predominantly political character, relating to investments and transactions involving multiple companies, including those of which the Applicant was the director (companies C and D). The applicant claimed that the request for a red notice against him was a retaliation for the arbitration proceedings initiated by companies D and E against Country A in the context of a bilateral investment treaty, for failure to accord fair and equitable treatment to the companies.
- The case arose based on a private commercial dispute;
- The purpose of the requested red notice could not be achieved, as Country A’s authorities already had full knowledge of his location in Country B.
- The proceedings were not lawful. The applicant claimed that a judge from Country A’s court previously issued a ruling discharging all accused in the case, and that the entire case upon which the Red Notice was requested had collapsed.
Applicable legal framework – key points
- Article 3 of INTERPOL’s Constitution states that “[i]t is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political (…) character.”
- Article 83.1 (a,i) of INTERPOL’s rules on the Processing of Data (RPD) states that “red notices may not be published for offences relating to private matters and for offences originating from a violation of laws or regulations of an administrative nature, unless the criminal activity is aimed at facilitating a serious crime or is suspected of being connected to organized crime”.
- Article 82 of the RPD states that “Red Notices are published (…) in order to seek the location of a wanted person and his/her detention, arrest or restriction of movement for the purpose of extradition, surrender, or similar lawful action.”
- Article 84 (b) of the RPD further states that the requesting NCB who has asked for the publication of a Red Notice “shall ensure (…) that extradition will be sought upon arrest of the person, in conformity with national laws and/or the applicable bilateral and multilateral treaties.”
- Article 2(1) of INTERPOL’s Constitution states that the organisation should “ensure and promote the widest possible mutual assistance between all criminal police authorities within the limits of the laws existing in the different countries and in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
The Commission’s findings
The Commission reviewed the Applicant’s contentions in the order described above.
Political Character of the case
The Commission found that:
- The applicant had close links with a former minister.
- There may indeed be political elements to this case, but the Applicant’s additional claims would need to be examined before making a final decision.
The Commission found that:
- The information provided by the National Central Bureau (NCB) in relation to possible personal participation of the Applicant in the crimes concerned was imprecise, and that the link between the Applicant and the alleged criminal activities was not properly clarified.
- There was no indication that the alleged criminal activity was aimed at facilitating a serious crime or was connected to organised crime.
- There were questions as to the compliance of the data challenged with INTERPOL’s rules, but the Applicant’s additional claims would need to be examined before making a final decision.
Lack of purpose
The Commission recalled that:
- The purpose of a Red Notice is not only to locate a person, but also to request their provisional arrest in view of extradition. As such, the fact that the Applicant’s location was known to Country A’s authorities did not undermine as such the lawfulness of the Red Notice.
Lack of lawfulness
- Acknowledged that the previous decision of the court in Country A was not ‘final’ as it had been appealed, however being the latest available judicial decision on the case, adopted by the same court who initially issued the arrest warrant which formed the basis of the Red Notice request, it was a significant consideration in the case.
The Commission decided that:
- In view of all the above elements, including the doubts identified on the link of the case with a private dispute, as well as the political elements surrounding the proceedings, the data challenged were not compliant with INTERPOL’s rules applicable to the processing of personal data.
- The data shall be deleted from INTERPOL’s files.