INTERPOL's I-link system: Growing Pains


When INTERPOL introduced its I-link system, the goal of the system was to provide its member countries with near-instant access to one another's shared information about wanted subjects. While that goal clearly has been met, it hasn't been without some bumps in the road.

Along with the benefit of instant access come the drawbacks of lack of review. Prior to I-link's implementation, member countries were required to submit their requests for Red Notices to Interpol for approval. Only after the requests had been reviewed and approved by the General Secretariat would they be circulated in INTERPOL's databases and made available to other member countries.

Under the current I-link system, however, no such review or approval is required prior to the entry and circulation of a Red Notice. According to the 2011 annual report of the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL's Files, that lack of review presents one of the problems with the I-link system. The Commission's finding in section 5.2.3 of the report addressed that concern and emphasized:

While automatic checking mechanisms are increasingly advanced, they are not intended to replace human checks.

And given the fact that Red Notices are cloaked in a presumption of validity, the fact that they can now be issued without any "human check" is particularly alarming. The simple truth is that any member country that has a corrupt, lazy, or improperly motivated INTERPOL liaison official can easily and quickly upload invalid Red Notices into INTERPOL'S databases. The result is that truly innocent people may have their lives turned upside down while they navigate the waters of INTERPOL, detention, and extradition.

While the Commission must be commended for keeping INTERPOL honest, it remains to be seen exactly how INTERPOL will rectify the problem of Red Notices that are improperly entered into the I-link system.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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