In the first blog in this series, I calculated that Interpol deleted approximately 170 Red Notices in 2016 for not complying with its rules — in all likelihood, because they were efforts to use Interpol for political purposes. In this second and concluding blog, I will explain what this deletion rate means for Interpol as a whole.
It would be very helpful if we could go back to 2015, and previous years, and determine how many Red Notices were deleted in those years. This would give us a solid handle on whether or not the problem of Interpol abuse is getting worse. Unfortunately, only the 2015 Report allows us to do this (the comparable figures in 2015 are 84 Red Notices and 15 diffusions deleted, which means 2016 saw a nearly two-fold increase). Before that, the CCF Reports present so little information that meaningful calculations are impossible.
But the trend is clear enough: in 2011, the CCF processed 258 requests and “32 of these complaints resulted in the cancellation of a search, or even the destruction of the information concerned in INTERPOL’s files.” So in 2011, the CCF deleted an absolute maximum of 32 Red Notices. Just five years later, in 2016, the number of requests had jumped to 1,047, at least a four-fold increase, and the number of deletions to around 170, an over five-fold increase. This is considerably more than the 130 Red Notices which a German political party spokesman recently claimed had been cancelled since 2014.
By way of comparison, Interpol published 6,344 Red Notices in 2010 and 12,878 in 2015, a two-fold increase. So even if precision is impossible, it is certainly safe to say that Red Notice deletions are rising faster that Red Notice publications — probably two or even three times as fast. So there is every reason to conclude that Interpol is not publishing more non-compliant Red Notices just because it is publishing more Red Notices in total. It is publishing more non-compliant Red Notices partly because it is publishing more Red Notices, but also partly because the proportion of non-compliant Red Notices is rising.
It is regrettable that we cannot be more precise about these matters. But it is a mistake to seek more precision in a subject than the subject is capable of. If others have better information, or ways to achieve more precision, I would be glad to hear about it. But right now, this is all the precision I can achieve: the CCF deleted something like 170 Red Notices in 2016, and assuming that all of these Red Notices were published in 2015 (which is not a safe assumption), this is a deletion rate of 1.3%.
I draw two conclusions from all this. First, most of Interpol’s publications likely comply with its rules, but both the number and the share of non-compliant publications is rising. Second, the gymnastics you have to go through to get even a rough estimate of the number of non-compliant Red Notices are ridiculous. As I and others have repeatedly complained, Interpol’s publications are grossly inadequate. There is simply no good reason for Interpol not to provide clear information about the number of Red Notices annually found non-compliant.
The only possible reason is a bad one: Interpol doesn’t want to let anyone know how big the problem of non-compliance is. I hope that’s not true, but I fear it is — and so I fear that only pressure from Interpol’s democratic members will lead to it change its ways.
This piece originally appeared in Forbes https://www.forbes.com/sites/tedbromund/2018/09/25/are-abusive-interpol-red-notices-increasing/#1fd1d24168dd