• Roger Sahota

Interpol finally takes steps to prevent Russian Red Notice misuse

Updated: Aug 3

Interpol’s announcement that it is taking steps to restrict Russia’s ability to issue Red Notices on its global database of wanted international criminals is long overdue.

Roger Sahota


Article 3 of Interpol’s constitution prohibits Interpol from taking part in political activities. However, in recent years many non-democratic countries – not just Russia – have sought to manipulate Interpol’s procedures by issuing politicised Red Notices to target their political opponents.

The abuse can be obvious – as with the targeting of opposition politicians or activists exercising their right to free speech or peaceful protest. But it can also be more subtle. Russia, Turkey, China, Nigeria and the UAE along with many other Interpol members have long been accused of trying to harass not just political dissidents but business leaders and other public figures (such as the NBA star Enes Kanter) who are perceived as threats to their political or economic interests.

An investigation by the Council of Europe in 2019 confirmed this when it found “that Interpol’s procedures had been frequently abused for political or corrupt reasons by certain countries.”

Last week’s announcement means that the National Crime Bureau in Moscow can no longer directly post Red Notices or diffusions on Interpol’s database. Interpol’s General Secretariat will filter and monitor all Russian requests to see if they are complaint before they are disseminated to other members of Interpol.

Interpol experts have long argued that this type of screening system should be adopted for any Interpol member that has a record of abusing its procedures. The deterrent effect would set an example for persistent offenders. Suspending Russia from the Red Notice system should be just the start of an overhaul of Interpol’s processes to ensure that they are not abused in the future by autocracies and dictatorships that do not respect the international rule of law.

To read more about the announcement, click here.