INTERPOL: US Ninth Circuit rejects Red Notices as evidence of a crime being committed

Article by Fair Trials

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled that an INTERPOL Red Notice does not in itself establish probable cause that a crime has been committed.

Oscar Oswaldo Gonzalez-Castillo had petitioned for a review of a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), where the Government’s only evidence was the existence of a Red Notice, which was presented as evidence that Gonzalez-Castillo had committed a serious non-political crime in El Salvador.

However, in Gonzalez-Castillo v. Garland, the Ninth Circuit ruled that a “Red Notice did not, by itself, establish probable cause that there were serious reasons to believe that Gonzalez-Castillo committed a serious nonpolitical crime in El Salvador.”

Fair trials, with pro bono support from law firm Arnold & Porter, submitted an amicus brief in the case, which challenged the validity of INTERPOL Red Notices as sole evidence that an asylum seeker is ineligible for relief based on criminal activity.

In their ruling, the Ninth Circuit noted that, “because a Red Notice is not independently vetted for factual and legal justification, its reliability corresponds with that of the foreign nation’s arrest warrant”.

In February 2021, the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, made a similar ruling in an immigration case in which Fair Trials also submitted an amicus brief. Both cases have helped to create positive case law which will be used to hold the government to the proper standard and will offer clearer protection for asylum seekers who face exclusion unfairly.

“As a matter of fundamental fairness and justice, Fair Trials urges the Department of Justice to take steps to apply this holding uniformly throughout the US,” commented Rebecca Shaeffer, Fair Trials’ Legal Director (Americas).

INTERPOL’s system of Red Notices has been abused by governments around the world, including to persecute refugees, journalists and peaceful political activists. Fair Trials is campaigning for INTERPOL to take further action to prevent its systems being abused and to be more transparent about its work. Read more about our campaign.