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Review: What is Interpol’s Red Corner Notice & Which Country Issued Most of These Notices?

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A Red Corner Notice is a request to law enforcements worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest fugitives. It alerts the police forces across the world about these fugitives who are wanted internationally. Who makes these requests and what do the numbers look like?

Recently, media reported that the Interpol rejected a request by India to issue a Red Corner Notice against Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, founder of pro-Khalistan group ‘Sikhs for Justice’ (SFJ). The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has listed him as a terrorist under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The said person is based in Canada. 

Interpol apparently rejected the request stating that India has failed to provide sufficient information in support of its request. This was the second time that India made this request about this person. In this context, we look at Interpol and the process of issuing ‘Red Corner Notice’ (RN) along with the data about RN.  

 What is Interpol? 

The International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO), commonly known as Interpol is an inter-governmental organization that facilitates international police cooperation to control crime.  The Interpol has 195 member countries, with its headquarters in Lyon, France.  Each of the member countries has an Interpol National Central Bureau (NCB). They facilitate the respective country’s national law enforcement with other countries and with the General Secretariat, which is Interpol’s body that coordinates its policing and administrative activities. 

Interpol helps coordinate police networks & experts in different crime areas to control crime. All the member countries are connected through Interpol’s communication system, called I-24/7. This secure network is used by member countries to contact each other and allows them to access Interpol’s databases. 

Interpol manages 19 databases which includes information on varied crimes and criminals, which is available real-time to countries. It offers investigative support including – forensic, analysis, locating fugitives across the world etc. 

This expertise helps to support the efforts of its member countries to combat crimes across three key areas – Terrorism, Organised Crime and Cybercrime. 

What is Red Notice? 

Criminals or suspects often flee a country to evade facing justice. A Red Corner Notice also called as Red Notice (RN) is a request to law enforcements worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest such fugitives. It alerts the police forces across the world about these fugitives who are wanted internationally. 

A RN contains information that helps identify the wanted person including – name, date of birth, nationality, physical attributes like colour of hair, eyes, etc. along with pictures and biometric information. It also includes information of the crimes that they are wanted for. 

Interpol issues a RN at the request of a member country. The country which issues the request need not be the home country of the fugitive. Interpol acts on the request of a country where the alleged crime is committed. A Red Notice request can also be raised by International Criminal courts and Tribunals. 

It ought to be noted that Red Notice is not an international arrest warrant. It is a request to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender or similar legal action. Interpol cannot compel the law enforcements authorities in any of the countries to arrest someone who has a RN issued. Each member country determines on the legal value it gives to a Red Notice. 

Not all requests for Red Notice are accepted by Interpol. Due diligence is done to ensure that the RN request is in compliance with Interpol’s rules & regulations. 

Few of the reasons why RNs are found to be non-complaint include.

  • The requests are predominantly of political, military, religious or racial character. 
  • The request is in contravention to Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 
  • Not meeting the minimum penalty requirements
  • The offences in RN request are part of the excluded offences.  
Source: Interpol’s Website

Publication of Red Notices for Public: Red Notices issued by Interpol are restricted to law enforcement. However, extracts of Red Notices are published at the request of the member country or where the public’s help may be needed to locate an individual or if the individual poses a threat to public safety. Therefore, there could be other valid RNs which are not public. 

The RNs that are made public are published on Interpol’s website. This information is current, and Interpol regularly updates the information. For this story, we have compiled RN related information as on 26 October 2022, which are made public. The current information and the information available for public might vary. The analysis of this data only indicates a broader trend. 

Highest number of Red Notices are issued to Russian citizens.

A majority of the Red Notices that are publicly available are issued to those with nationality as Russian. They constitute around 40% of the total red notices available for the public to view.

Russia is followed by the Latin American country of El-Salvador. Around 15% of those who received Red Notices have citizenship of El-Salvador. Russia and El-Salvador make up more than half of the current RNs. 

Other Latin American countries – Argentina, Guatemala, Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia, etc. are among the countries with the highest number of fugitives claiming their nationality. India and Pakistan are also among the countries with a higher number of RNs being issued against their citizens. 

Russia is also the country which has requested for the highest number of RNs. Around 45% of those issued RNs are wanted by Russia. This is higher than their own share of citizens being issued RNs. Apart from their own citizens, Russia also sought RNs for citizens of other countries majority of who were part of the erstwhile USSR. These include citizens of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, etc. In the case of El-Salvador, it is mostly its own citizens. 

Like Russia, Argentina also wanted a high number of citizens from other countries apart from its own. They are majorly from its neighbouring countries like Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, etc. Same is the case with USA. Most of the citizens wanted by USA are other country nationals with majority of them are from Latin American countries. 

Participation in illegal armed formation, participation in terrorist activities, etc. feature majorly among the charges against those wanted by Russia, especially for its citizens. Other major charges include – fraud, murder, drug trafficking, rape, etc. In case of El-Salvador and most of the Latin American countries, illicit drug trafficking, organised crime, homicide, etc. feature prominently among the charges. Crimes relating to drug trafficking, murder, sexual assault, etc. feature prominently among charges against those wanted by USA.  Males constitute around 85% of those who were issued Red Notices. 

Apart from its own citizens, India issued Red Notices for citizens of Pakistan, U.K, Canada among others 

While the number of Red Notices of Indian citizens and those wanted by India are comparatively much lower than that of Russia & El-Salvador, it does rank among the top-countries.  As per the current information available for public on the Interpol website, there are more than 200 red notices for Indian citizens. A majority of these are wanted by India. Apart from these, Indian citizens are also wanted by USA, Canada, Cyprus etc among others. 

India also ranks higher in the number of fugitives that it has issued Red Notices to. Most of them are its own citizens. Apart from them, India has also issued notices for citizens of other countries like Pakistan, United Kingdom, Bangladesh, etc. 

Criminal conspiracy, attempts to import arms, conspiracy of war, raising funds for terrorist organizations, etc are among the major reasons for which India has requested red notices for Pakistani citizens. Economic offence, murder, rape, etc. are among the major charges against the Indian citizens who are sought by the law enforcement authorities in India as well as against the other country citizens wanted by India. 

Featured Image: Interpol Red Corner Notice

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