An Interpol notice is an international alert circulated by Interpol to communicate information about crimes, criminals, and threats from police in a member state (or an authorised international entity) to their counterparts around the world. The information disseminated via notices concerns individuals wanted for serious crimes, missing persons, unidentified bodies, possible threats, prison escapes, and criminals' modus operandi.
There are eight types of notices, seven of which are colour-coded by their function: Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Black, Orange, and Purple. The most well-known notice is the Red Notice which is the "closest instrument to an international arrest warrant in use today." An eighth Special Notice is issued at the request of the United Nations Security Council.
Notices published by Interpol are made either on the organisation's own initiative or are based on requests from its member states' National Central Bureaus (NCBs) or authorised international entities such as the United Nations and the International Criminal Court. All notices are published on Interpol's secure website. Extracts of notices may also be published on Interpol's public website if the requesting entity agrees.
Interpol can only publish a notice that adheres to all the proper legal conditions. For example, a notice will not be published if it violates Interpol's constitution, which forbids the organisation from undertaking activities of a political, military, religious, or racial character. Interpol can refuse to publish a notice that it considers inadvisable or a potential risk.
|Red Notice||To seek the location and arrest of a person wanted by a judicial jurisdiction or an international tribunal with a view to his/her extradition.|
|Blue Notice||To locate, identify or obtain information on a person of interest in a criminal investigation.|
|Green Notice||To warn about a person's criminal activities if that person is considered to be a possible threat to public safety.|
|Yellow Notice||To locate a missing person or to identify a person unable to identify himself/herself.|
|Black Notice||To seek information on unidentified bodies.|
|Orange Notice||To warn of an event, a person, an object or a process representing an imminent threat and danger to persons or property.|
|Purple Notice||To provide information on modi operandi, procedures, objects, devices or hiding places used by criminals.|
|Interpol-United Nations Security Council Special Notice||To inform Interpol's members that an individual or an entity is subject to UN sanctions.|
Similar to the Notice is another request for cooperation or alert mechanism known as a 'diffusion'. This is less formal than a notice but is also used to request the arrest or location of an individual or additional information in relation to a police investigation. A diffusion is circulated directly by a member states or international entity to the countries of their choice, or to the entire Interpol membership and is simultaneously recorded in Interpol’s databases.
The International Notice system was created in 1946 as Interpol re-established itself after World War II in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Cloud. It initially consisted of six colour coded notices; Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Black and Purple. In 2004 the seventh colour was added; Orange.
In 2005 the Interpol-United Nations Security Council Special Notice was created at the request of the UN Security Council through Resolution 1617 to provide better tools to help the Security Council carry out its mandate regarding the freezing of assets, travel bans and arms embargoes aimed at individuals and entities associated with Al-Qaeda and the Taliban and was adopted by Interpol at its 74th General Assembly in Berlin in September 2005.
Interpol published approximately 26,500 notices and diffusions in 2011:
There were 40,836 notices and 48,310 diffusions in circulation at the end of 2011, and 7,958 people were arrested on the basis of a notice or diffusion during 2011.
Interpol published approximately 32,750 notices and diffusions in 2012:
There were 46,994 notices and 66,614 diffusions in circulation at the end of 2012.
Interpol published approximately 34,920 notices and diffusions in 2013:
There were 52,880 notices and 70,159 diffusions in circulation at the end of 2013; 7,958 people were arrested on the basis of a notice during 2013.
In his non-fiction book, Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice, Bill Browder, the CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, describes how the Russian government repeatedly requested that Interpol issue a Red Notice for his arrest. Interpol refused to do so on the basis that it deemed the request was "predominantly political in nature and therefore contrary to INTERPOL's rules and regulations". Unable to secure his extradition Browder was subsequently tried and convicted by a Moscow court for tax evasion in absentia.
In January 2017 United Kingdom-based NGO Fair Trials called on Interpol to introduce more rigorous checks. Fair Trial chief executive Jago Russell stated, "Interpol has been allowing itself to be used by oppressive regimes across the world to export the persecution of human rights defenders, journalists and political opponents". INTERPOL's secretary-general, Jurgen Stock, stated that INTERPOL had introduced a task force to review requests "even more intensively".
Commission for the Control of Interpol's Files ("CCF")
The Commission for the Control of Interpol's Files ("CCF") is an independent monitoring body. It operates in line with a number of official rules and documents and has three main functions:
- Monitoring the application of data protection rules to personal data processed by Interpol;
- Advising with regard to any operations or projects concerning the processing of personal information.
- Processing requests for access to Interpol's files.
In 2008, the Interpol General Assembly voted to amend Interpol's Constitution to integrate the CCF into its internal legal structure, thereby guaranteeing its independence.
The CCF's most notable function, however, is to consider legal petitions submitted by individuals requesting the revocation of Red Notices. Such petitions, as a rule, only succeed when the Red Notice is deemed to infringe Interpol's Constitution either because it offends the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or because it was issued for political, religious, military or racial reasons. In an interview given to Forbes Africa Magazine in July 2013, leading international defence attorney Nick Kaufman observed that it can take months for the CCF to rule on such a petition adding that the review body "doesn't have to give reasons for its decision and there is no right of appeal".
Red notices are often controversial and have been used to persecute opponents of regimes. An example being that of the former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych whose red notice was removed because it was shown to be a political request.
In popular culture
In the original 1985 version of the Brøderbund computer game Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, the first part of the player's objective in each mission is to obtain an Interpol Red Notice (imprecisely described as a "warrant to arrest") against a member of a fictitious crime syndicate.
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INTERPOL already issues a series of colour-coded notices, including the famous Red Notice for wanted international fugitives
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