Red Notice status - why won't they tell me?


A reader recently sent in this question:  

If you were trying to ascertain someone's red notice status, and had followed the correct channels when inquiring with Interpol, could they still ignore you? If so why, and how else would you acquire this information without being arrested in the process? Just to clarify, I'm not an international criminal on the run, just curious.

The reader's question taps into a particularly frustrating fact:  most INTERPOL Red Notices are not published on INTERPOL's wanted pages.  INTERPOL's rules allow for member countries to either keep their Red Notices private, and available only to law enforcement agencies, or to publish them on the website.

As the reader's question indicates, the more obvious way to inquire as to one's INTERPOL status would be to present oneself to any police department and inquire.  That approach naturally carries with it the risk of arrest and detention.

Another approach, as referenced by the reader, is to inquire directly with INTERPOL.  INTERPOL may answer the inquiry, but may also refusing to answer the question if the member country that requested the notice does not want the notice to be published.  In my experience, however, inquiries are normally met with a timely response and not ignored.  Whether the response is the desired one is a different question.  Non-publication makes sense when one considers that a person who is unaware of his Red Notice status is more likely to travel and be apprehended, which is the purpose of every Red Notice.  Red Notices are not arrest warrants, but the two are similar in that they are often more effective when their subject is unaware of their existence.


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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