Can INTERPOL Red Notice be issued for failure to meet bad debts?

A Red Notice is an electronic alert issued by INTERPOL to detain a person for the purpose of extradition. While an important instrument in fighting transnational crime, Red Notices are often misused and can violate human rights.

Explore a recent case in which a request was lodged to delete an INTERPOL Red Notice for “issuing an unfunded cheque”.


The facts

  • The applicant was the subject of a Red Notice for issuing an unfunded cheque.


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. This includes ensuring that:

  • There are no human rights violations.
  • The offence for which a Red Notice has been issued is a “serious crime”. For a Red Notice to be issued for unfunded cheques, the minimum requirement is “a total amount of at least USD 10,000 or the issuance of multiple cheques on several occasions in a repetitive manner.”
  • The data concerning the subject of the notice must be of interest to international police cooperation.


The applicant’s request and explanation

The Applicant requested the deletion of the Red Notice and data concerning him, contending that:

  • The case was of a civil rather than a criminal nature.
  • The case lacked interest for the purpose of international police cooperation.

The applicant claimed that he had no intention to issue an unfunded cheque, and that the dispute resulted from an honest inability to meet his financial obligations at the time.

He provided documents showing that he lacked criminal intent and was making every effort to cooperate in meeting his debts. This included a letter sent from his lawyer which stated that he “will cooperate and coordinate with the fulfilment of the said obligation with the bank and is not running away or reneging from his obligations.”


The Commission’s findings

The CCF considered the following issues:

  • The minimum threshold of USD 10,000 was reached.
  • However, issuing unfunded cheques is seldom recognised as a crime and extraditable offence in many national systems. It is more commonly viewed as a civil matter which doesn’t warrant international police cooperation.
  • The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights stipulates, in Article 11, “No one shall be imprisoned merely on the ground of inability to fulfil a contractual obligation,” which would include debt.
  • The applicant provided documentation showing that he made genuine attempts to pay his debts and lacked malicious or fraudulent intent.


The result

As the act of issuing the unfunded cheque lacked criminal intent and was not deemed of interest to international police cooperation, it was decided that the data concerning the Applicant were not compliant with INTERPOL’s rules applicable to the processing of personal data, and that they should be deleted from INTERPOL’s files.

Nyman Gibson Miralis provides expert advice and representation in INTERPOL-related criminal investigations and is experienced in having Red Notices successfully removed.

Contact us if you require assistance.