INTERPOL’s systems are being abused by countries around the world 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.

What is the problem?

INTERPOL, the world’s largest international policing organisation aims to connect police forces across the globe to facilitate closer cross-border cooperation and data-sharing. However, its systems – particularly its international ‘wanted person’ alerts, known as Red Notices, and its less formal alerts, known as diffusions – are abused by countries around the world to persecute refugees, journalists and political opponents, at huge personal cost to these individuals.

As a result of our campaigning, INTERPOL has made reforms but there is more work to be done.

What do we want?

Preventing abuse of INTERPOL’s systems

Fair Trials is campaigning for INTERPOL to do more to filter out abuses of its systems before information is sent out to police forces across the globe. INTERPOL is supposed to check each and every Red Notice before it is disseminated, but abusive alerts are continuing to slip through the net. Diffusions – which are less formal alerts but which can have exactly the same devastating effect as Red Notices – are not subject to the same scrutiny. We want all ‘wanted persons’ alerts to be subject to rigorous, meaningful checks.

When abusive Red Notices and diffusions do slip through the net, victims should have redress through an open and impartial process.

More transparency about Red Notices and diffusions

We want INTERPOL to be more transparent about the way it makes its decisions on Red Notices and diffusions. We also want it to provide more information about how many Red Notices and diffusions they receive from their member countries and how many they reject. Without this information, we don’t know how effectively INTERPOL is checking for abusive Red Notices.

Stronger protections against abusive Red Notices and diffusions in member countries

INTERPOL member countries should have better laws and policies in place to protect their legal systems from the harmful effects of abusive Red Notices and diffusions. Member countries should be more alert to the risk of misuse of INTERPOL’s systems, and make sure that people with abusive Red Notices or diffusions are protected from persecution, rather than arrested and extradited.


Reforming INTERPOL

Fair Trials is the world’s leading expert organisation on INTERPOL reform. We have worked with the EU institutions, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and a US Senate Committee to build support for reforming INTERPOL.

We worked constructively with INTERPOL to understand the cause of the problems and develop realistic reform proposals. Since 2015, INTERPOL has introduced several reforms, which were informed by our recommendations. They include:

  • The adoption of a policy that states that refugees should not be subject to Red Notices or diffusions requesting their arrest and extradition;
  • Improved procedures for checking Red Notices before they are disseminated, and the establishment a dedicated task force to review Red Notices and diffusions;
  • A major overhaul of INTERPOL’s complaints body, the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files, making the process of challenging abusive Red Notices and diffusions fairer, more effective, and more transparent; and
  • Governance reforms that ensure that people in leading positions at INTERPOL are subject to more scrutiny, and held to ethical standards.

Supporting people affected by Red Notices and Diffusions

  • Through the media and films, we raise awareness of the devastating impact that the abuse of INTERPOL’s systems can have on those affected.
  • We help individuals who have been subjected to abusive INTERPOL alerts. To date, we have helped dozens of people who have been subject to abusive INTERPOL alerts from countries including Russia, Turkey, China, and Venezuela. We have helped secure the removal of these alerts, including in the cases of Dolkun Isa, and Bahar Kimyongür.
  • We assist refugees and people who cannot afford a lawyer to find out if a Red Notice of diffusion has been issued against them.