I would like to help today and donate

Next
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Next
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
CLOSE
NEWS

Guest Post: Is INTERPOL a reliable source?

editor - June 26, 2015 - INTERPOL, red notice

2234582_7441eb44LEAP member and Gherson solicitor, Thomas Garner, writes about this weeks UK High Court judgment regarding an INTERPOL Red Notice, illustrating further failings in the current system.
On 24 June 2015 the High Court gave judgment in the case of Leke Prendi aka Aleks Kola v Albania. The case considered the admissibility of evidence in UK extradition proceedings but also highlights one of the major failings of the INTERPOL Red Notice system.
In 2005, INTERPOL published a Red Notice at Albania’s request in respect of an offender sought to serve a 21-year sentence for murder, armed robbery and illegal keeping of military weapons. The Notice gave the individual’s date of birth and described his height and appearance. There was also a photograph. In 2007, INTERPOL published an addendum to the Notice, containing the same photograph but also what purported to be images of the individual's fingerprints. In 2013, the appellant was arrested in the UK on an unrelated matter. His fingerprints were taken and an expert later concluded that they matched those contained in the Notice. Extradition proceedings commenced.
The appellant maintained that he was not the person wanted by Albania. The judge admitted the Notice in evidence as he considered it to be a document from “a reliable source”, namely INTERPOL. He concluded that the appellant was the person described in the Notice and sent the case to the Home Secretary for a decision on his extradition.
On appeal the High Court reviewed the admissibility of the Notice into the extradition proceedings. Whoever had compiled the Notice in INTERPOL could not confirm the truth of any of the facts contained within it. The information came from sources outside INTERPOL, and there was no evidence that they had obtained the various elements directly from whoever had taken the photograph, fingerprints, or measured the individual's height. There was in fact no evidence about when, where or how the photograph and fingerprints were taken, or the height measured. In those circumstances, even if INTERPOL was accepted as a reliable source, this did not prove that the actual sources of the information in the Notice were themselves reliable.
In allowing the appeal, the High Court held that the judge was wrong to admit the Red Notice as evidence of the facts stated in it. Furthermore, even if he had been correct, he had to consider the weight he was able to apply to it and decide whether the requesting state had proved the identity to the necessary standard.
Many people are shocked to learn that INTERPOL does not independently verify the information contained in a Red Notice prior to publication. This case highlights the potential for real harm to be incurred. The appellant was arrested – and very nearly extradited – on the basis of information contained in a Red Notice. This information did not match his name, date of birth or height. The photograph was unclear and did not appear to be an official photograph as might be taken by the authorities, furthermore there was no information as to when, where or why the fingerprints that were linked at a later date were taken. There were real doubts about the information contained in the Notice.
The existing system to challenge the accuracy of information held by INTERPOL is cumbersome and inefficient. Applications to the CCF (The Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s files) can take years to resolve and the process is opaque. Individuals who are disappointed with any response they receive have no opportunity to seek judicial review.
The willingness of the judge in this case to accept the Red Notice as being from “a reliable source” highlights the important responsibility that INTERPOL has to ensure that the information it circulates is accurate and appropriate. It must be wrong that such potentially damaging information can be placed on the INTERPOL system without verification or any effective means of challenge.

This is a guest post written by Thomas Garner and may not reflect the views of Fair Trials.This article is an abridged version, read the full version here.
Thomas Garner is a member of LEAP  and a solicitor at Gherson Solicitors.
To find out more about our INTERPOL campaign visit this section of our website or watch our video.
For regular updates follow Fair Trials on Twitter or sign-up to our monthly bulletin at the bottom of the page.

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please call the media team on +44 (0) 7749 785 932 or email [email protected]

Keep up to date

Receive updates on our work and news about Fair Trials globally

Activities in the following sections on this website are supported by the Justice Programme of the European Union: Legal Experts Advisory Panel, Defence Rights Map, Case Law Database, Advice Guides and Latest News. More information about our financial supporters is available here.