Finding out if there is a Red Notice or Diffusion against you, and, if so, what it says

Q6. I think I may be subject to a Red Notice or Diffusion. How do I find out?

6.1 Will I be able to find out by checking online?

You can check the ‘wanted persons’ section of INTERPOL’s website at http://www.interpol.int/Wanted-Persons. This page contains extracts of some, but not all, Red Notices.

If your name does appear on this page, it will also include a very broad indication of what sort of offence you are wanted for: ‘theft’, for example. To obtain more specific information, you will have to follow one of the other procedures described in this Note.

However, if you are not listed on this page, this is not conclusive: only some Red Notices feature on this page. The rest are available only on INTERPOL’s restricted networks which are visible only to national law enforcement authorities. In addition, if you are subject to a Diffusion, this will never feature on INTERPOL’s website.

6.2 Can I ask police in my country to check INTERPOL’s files for me?

Some people FTI has spoken to have been able to obtain information by simply asking police in the country where they live.

There may not be a formal procedure provided for this, but in some cases people have obtained answers on an informal basis.

You should however be aware that police may not be allowed to consult INTERPOL records and disclose information to you.

Further, even if police inform you that there is no information on file, this is, again, not conclusive, as they may not have access to the relevant INTERPOL database.

You may also be able to make a request using ‘data protection’ laws in your country. In the European Union, for instance, countries are required to have mechanisms allowing a person to gain access to information about them held on government files. However, these laws provide exceptions for law enforcement authorities.  You should consult with a lawyer in your country about this.

 6.3 Can I find out directly from INTERPOL?

You can make a request to the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files (‘CCF’) asking for access to your file. The CCF is a panel of data protection experts which handles requests from individuals wishing to gain access to information about them stored on INTERPOL’s files or to challenge such information.

Any request you make to the CCF needs to meet the ‘admissibility requirements’ (see Q7 below).

The address to write to is:

The Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files (CCF)

200 Quai Charles de Gaulle

69006 Lyon, France

Note that it is important to specify the CCF as the addressee on your envelope. Mail addressed to INTERPOL (which has the same address) can be opened by INTERPOL’s General Secretariat and used for police cooperation, that is to say, it can be recorded on databases and may become available for NCBs to see.

Q7. What are the CCF’s ‘admissibility requirements’?

There are certain specific requirements which your request must comply with in order for the CCF to consider it (these are available at: http://www.interpol.int/About-INTERPOL/Structure-and- governance/CCF/Access-to-INTERPOL's-files):

It must be an original signed letter; AND

  • It must be accompanied by a copy of an identity document. Although the rules do not specify this, FTI would suggest a passport, identity card or driving license; AND
  • If you would like someone else to write on your behalf, it is necessary   to   include   a power of   attorney   (a model is provided with this Note). You must include the signed original (not a copy) of this document with your letter; AND
  • You should also complete and attach the Access Request Form (available at the link above). In the section asking for reasons, state ‘request for access as of right under Article 18 RPD’.

Q8. What information should I include in the request to the CCF?

An application to access your personal information on INTERPOL’s files should also include a statement that you are making the request under Article 18 of the Rules on the Processing of Data.

This provision entitles you to make the application and you do not have to ‘justify’ or explain your interest in obtaining access to your information. It is your right to ask for it.

The only limitation is the CCF is only obliged to consider a request if the person has reasonable grounds to think that there may be information concerning them on INTERPOL’s files.

FTI suggests including a single sentence explaining why you think you may be subject to a Red Notice or Diffusion, but no more (see  Interpol request letter and Information application forms– Model Access Request No. 1).

Q9. Will I receive an acknowledgment? When?

Yes. If your request complies with the admissibility requirements (see Q7), the CCF will send you an initial response which will read something like this:

‘We acknowledge receipt of your correspondence dated [date] to the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files.

Insofar as you have provided the required documents, your request is admissible.

We will keep you informed of further developments in due course.’

The CCF’s rules require it to acknowledge the request within one month. In FTI’s recent experience, however, these initial letters have arrived more quickly, within a week or two.

Q10. Is the CCF obliged to grant me access to INTERPOL’s files?

No. When it receives a request like this, the CCF has to ask the NCB of the relevant country for its authorization to disclose to you whether or not there is any information on file.

This is because, under INTERPOL’s rules, information on INTERPOL’s files belongs to the NCB which sends that information to INTERPOL. The NCB is therefore able to tell the CCF not to disclose the information at all, or even whether there is any information on file. You may therefore get an answer like this:

‘In application of the principles of national sovereignty and indirect access to information, on which INTERPOL’s applicable rules for processing information are based, the Commission is not authorized to disclose whether or not there is any information in INTEPROL’s files about the person subject of the request, or to allow access to such information if it exists, unless it obtains the necessary authorization from the appropriate authorities of any countries concerned by the request.

However, the Commission has not been authorized by the NCB to disclose to you whether or not there is any information about you registered in INTERPOL’s files.’

Note that if you receive such a response, it does not imply that there is, or that there is not, any information on file. It simply means that the CCF has not been allowed to tell you either way.

However, if there is information on file and the NCB does not object to the information being disclosed to you, the CCF may respond saying something like this:

‘The Commission has been authorized by the National Central Bureau of [country] to inform you that you are wanted by virtue of an arrest warrant dated [date] issued by [the relevant court].

This arrest warrant is the basis for a [Diffusion / Red Notice] issued against you with the following summary of facts:

[the letter will then include a short description of the allegation, possibly only of a few lines in length, supplied by the NCB]’

Equally, the NCB may consent to you being informed that there is no information on file at all. We do not currently know what the wording of such a response looks like.

 Q11. When can I expect a full response?

As explained above, in order to answer your request, the CCF has to consult with the NCB in the relevant country. Because of this, time frames for these requests can be very long: FTI has seen cases where people have waited up to two years for an answer.

However, it may be possible for you to obtain a quicker answer if you can demonstrate that you know there is information about you on INTERPOL’s files (see Q12 below).

Q12. I can prove there is information on INTERPOL’s files. Can I ask for the detail?

Many people already know there is information on INTERPOL’s files: they may have seen an extract of the Red Notice on the internet; have been arrested and told this was on the basis of a Red Notice or Diffusion; or been denied a visa or professional license on that basis.

If you are able to demonstrate that you know there is information on INTERPOL’s files, the CCF may be able to provide access to that information even without the NCB’s authorization.

Therefore, it is important that you explain in your letter how you know there is information and provide evidence to support what you say. So, for example, if you have been arrested and the document you were given upon arrest mentions that this was done on the basis of an INTERPOL alert, provide a copy of this document and explain the circumstances. If your Red Notice appears on the INTERPOL’s website, provide a printout.

See  Interpol request letter and Information application forms(Model Access Request No. 2) for an example of wording you might use in such a request. In some cases of this kind, FTI has seen responses arrive in as little as three months.