The INTERPOL ‘Red Notice’ system has recently come under criticism for being subject to the manipulation and politicisation by States using the process to target political opponents and dissidents. Warrants issued by States such as the UAE, Egypt and Russia that do not have an independent judicial system or respect for the rule of law clearly demonstrates that the system is in dire need of reform. The question is raised as to whether it is “fit for purpose” or whether it needs a fundamental overhaul.
Guernica members have recently been instructed by several individuals who have fallen victim to the continued abuse of the INTERPOL ‘Red Notice’ system, a system designed to assist law enforcement officers trace and ultimately detain individuals wanted for criminal offences that have since fled the jurisdiction and therefore evading justice.
The system in principle is important, and a useful tool in seeking to ensure that individuals cannot escape justice by merely leaving the country, the reality however is that it, like a number of other mechanisms, has become overtly political, and subject to consistent manipulation by regimes seeking to silence dissent, and imprison detractors.
Client A for example (the name of the individual in question must be kept confidential), was an Egyptian national who instructed members of Guernica following two attempts to detain and extradite him on the basis of a Red Notice that had been issued without foundation.
The individual in question had left Egypt as he had publicly criticised President Sisi and therefore, justifiably feared for his safety.
He resided in Turkey initially but had to travel to a further country on business, upon landing he was arrested on the aforementioned notice and extradition proceedings were commenced.
These proceedings were ultimately dismissed as the presiding judge found that the allegations being made by Egypt were entirely without foundation and that the process had been politically motivated. Client A returned to Turkey, but again had to travel another country, a different country from the above, again on business, and was again detained and extradition proceedings commenced.
The Guernica team were able to demonstrate that the matters had already come before another court and dismissed, and in highlighting the position in Egypt regarding current or previous members of the opposition, it was found that Client A ought not to be extradited, and again, that the proceedings that Egypt sought to bring against him were politically motivated.
This is a situation that unfortunately, we are seeing time and time again.
Clients B and C have been subject to Red Notices issued at the behest of the UAE, again, on an entirely fabricated basis, with the sole intention of preventing an issue from being discussed. As with Client A, no offence has actually been committed, however, the UAE seeks to punish those that may disagree with its policies and its oppressive nature.
INTERPOL have confirmed that they are looking into the matter following receipt of detailed submissions by Guernica. It is hoped that INTERPOL agree with the position argued, and that both notices are removed.
Guernica members have represented individuals that have been targeted by numerous regimes, including those in the Middle-East, South-East Asia, and Europe, and we have been able to demonstrate that the position being espoused by those regimes is not as it seems on each and every occasion.
Simply because such a notice has been issued does not mean that it cannot be challenged outside of any formal extradition process.
If an individual believes that the notice is politically motivated, or inappropriate for any other relevant reason, the position can be challenged by way of requesting that the matter is considered directly by INTERPOL.
In our experience, INTERPOL will look at such requests, although their response is not always timely.
This does not detract from the most important issue however, that being that the system is in dire need of reform so as to enable it to be used for the reasons for which it was developed, rather than it being manipulated to become a tool for authoritarian and autocratic regimes to target citizens who have dared to merely exercise their fundamental rights and freedoms, and by doing so, have made themselves a target for that State.
It simply cannot be appropriate that an international agency such as INTERPOL is allowed to be used to silence individuals who in reality have committed no discernible offence.
It is essential that any individual targeted in this manner seeks appropriate legal advice and assistance at an early opportunity so as to try and deal with the matter before any extradition process is commenced.