We were recently instructed by a client in respect of an INTERPOL Red Notice that had been issued against them by an African state in respect of an allegation of fraud. As a result of this Red Notice they were detained for several months in a country in the Middle East.

There were several legal issues with the Red Notice in question and we were able to make strong representations to the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files to delete the Red Notice. The Commission acted quickly to block the Red Notice and subsequently permanently deleted the information concerning our client from their systems.

Naturally our client was thrilled to be able to leave the country they had been trapped in for several months and continue his business. However, on attempting to board a flight to a third country a few weeks later our client was informed that his visa for that country had been cancelled – no explanation was given at the time.

Our client contacted us and we discovered that the reason for the cancellation was the supposed continued existence of the Red Notice. We were able to contact INTERPOL immediately to request that they clarify the position and also to work with our client to resolve his visa situation.

The problem our client faced stems from the structure and makeup of the INTERPOL system. Whilst often wrongly characterised as an international police force, INTERPOL is instead an organisation that simply enables cooperation between the police forces of its 190 member states. INTERPOL manages various databases and facilitates the rapid sharing of information between the police forces of its member states. Unfortunately this means that, on occasion, mistakes can occur. We have seen a number of instances where Red Notices have been ‘deleted’ by INTERPOL but still appear on out-dated copies of an INTERPOL database that is maintained by a member state.

Anyone who has been subject to an INTERPOL Red Notice or extradition request in the past should take advice before travelling regardless of what they believe the position to be. As an internationally focussed firm, dealing with INTERPOL, extradition, immigration and international protection, we have extensive experience in handling these specific issues and can offer practical advice as to how best to proceed including making applications for ‘safe passage’.