Interpol’s Commission for the Control of Files (“CCF”) has just published its long-awaited activity report for 2021 which is available on Interpol's website, here.
The Annual Report confirms that the CCF met four times in 2021 and each session lasted one week. Highlights of the report include:
The Report references the General Secretariat’s “evolving policy” concerning Red Notices for unfunded checks. These are now on the list of prohibited subjects for Red Notices published earlier in the year which featured in a previous Red Notice Monitor blog.
The volume of deletion requests received and processed by the CCF is largely consistent with recent years.
In 2021, 659 applications were received of which 651 were processed. This compares to 1350 applications in the last two years 2019 to 2020 (figures for 2019-2020 are produced in brackets below).
Of the 651 requests for deletion processed, 133 cases were retained on the Interpol database and considered compliant.
296 cases (594 in 2019-2020) were deleted as they did not comply with Interpol's rules. 239 (415 in 2019-2020) cases were deleted after consideration of the legal issues raised by the applicants and of the answers provided by the sources of the data challenge. In 50 (109 in 2019-20) of these cases, the National Central Bureau (NCB) did not provide any answers at all to the questions raised by the commission.
In 49 (191 in 2019-2020) other cases Red Notices were deleted at the request of either the Interpol General Secretary or the requesting NCB.
In 311 (355 in 2019-2020) of the admissible requests, access to data recorded in Interpol's files was blocked as a precautionary measure pending the finalisation of the cases.
The Report also notes that the Commission is working on rules and procedures relating to the processing of blue notices to ensure that these are comply with “standards of law”.
Increase in Requests for Clarification and Revision
The Report records an increase in the number of requests for the clarification or revision of Red Notices following a deletion decision by the CCF. It states that in some cases the CCF did provide additional information to avoid any misinterpretation regarding his decision but this did not result in the revision of its original determination.
Patterns of Misuse
Most interestingly, and in a tacit acknowledgement that some – unnamed – States often abuse Interpol’s procedures and, perhaps as a warning shot against future repetition, the CCF has identified “patterns of misuse” in how some National Crime Bureaus respond to requests for further information when the CCF investigates a Red Notice deletion request. These include requesting excessive and systematic extensions to deadlines. In addition, some NCB’s have been sending requests for police co-operation after the deletion of previous similar request concerning the same individuals but under another spelling of the applicant‘s name.
It is likely that the States concerned are amongst those often named as regularly abusing Interpol’s procedures. It is therefore disappointing that Interpol is not prepared to name and shame the guilty parties. This would be a far more effective deterrent than the current approach which has done little to stem the tide of abusive behaviour by some of Interpol’s member states in recent years. Unless and until it does the “patterns of misuse’ complained of are likely to persist.