INTERPOL has revealed that over 1,000 Red Notices or diffusions were either refused or cancelled for each year in 2020 and 2021 because they did not comply with its Constitution or rules. The data, published by INTERPOL for the first time in November 2022, covers 2017-2021 and reveals the startling rise in Red Notices which INTERPOL either refused to publish or cancelled over this period.
The number of notices rejected as not in line with Article 3 of INTERPOL’s constitution (being of a political, military, religious or racial character) almost doubled since 2017. The increase in Red Notices not in line with the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been even more stark, rising from only 26 in 2017 to 150 last year. The total number of refusals last year amounted to 5% of all Red Notices published.
This data confirms the trend, discussed in this blog before, of countries abusing the INTERPOL Red Notice system for political ends. The clearest warning of this abuse occurred in 2017 when Turkey was suspended from the organisation after attempting to upload data on over 60,000 Red Notices in that year. This did not deter Ankara, as in 2021 INTERPOL rejected a further 773 red notice requests for individuals linked to the opposition Gülenist movement, which Turkey refers to as the terrorist FETÖ group. Russia has also had numerous requests refused in recent years as politically motivated.
INTERPOL’s recent decision to publish these figures is welcome and demonstrates the concerns the organisation has about abuse of its system. It remains to be seen what further steps INTERPOL will take to tackle this problem, but the message in the data is clear: the misuse of Red Notices and diffusions for political ends remains a substantial and growing problem. Therefore, it is essential that INTERPOL continues to undertake reforms to increase the scrutiny of Red Notices and to speed up the review process to prevent wholly avoidable prejudice to individuals who, through no fault of their own, find themselves on the ‘wanted’ list for political ends.