“We petitioned Interpol for these removals last year,” Stirling said, “Our clients have been financially punished and treated like fugitives for months because of their inappropriate listing on the Interpol database; they have been unable to travel safely, and have seen their lives ground to a halt because Interpol does not sufficiently vet Red Notice requests before implementing them; even when those requests are made by chronic abusers of the Interpol system, like the UAE.
“While we are, of course, happy and gratified to see these Red Notices removed, it is inescapable that they should never have been issued in the first place. We have over a decade’s experience winning removals for our wrongfully listed clients, and are intimately familiar with Interpol’s rules for data collection and their protocols for issuing Red, Blue, and other Notices. When we request a removal, essentially, we engage in the very vetting process Interpol should be performing before issuing a Notice. That is; we identify and articulate all of the aspects of the case which make it ineligible for a listing. This is a process which Interpol should actually implement before accepting a Red Notice request and wreaking havoc on the lives of innocent people. Instead, they issue Notices without scrutiny, and it is left to the victims of a wrongful listing to prove why it should be removed.”
Stirling pointed out that countries like the UAE habitually request frivolous Red Notices over private financial disputes and civil matters which do not conform to Interpol’s own rules. “The UAE frequently uses the threat of Red Notices as a form of extortion to force people to settle business disputes that have no legal weight outside Emirates’ jurisdiction, and as a method of harassment to disrupt their lives so thoroughly that they will acquiesce to the biassed judgements of UAE courts. In many of these cases, no Western country would seriously consider extradition, not least of all because of the UAE’s dismal human rights record; but also because the Red Notices are entirely without merit. Yet, Interpol continues to accept Red Notice requests from countries like the UAE and Qatar without any mechanism for reviewing their appropriateness. Countless people have had their lives turned upside-down because the international policing organisation cannot be bothered to ensure conformity of Red Notice requests with their own rules.
“We have had clients detained at airports, swarmed by police in restaurants, and even practically run off the road by police acting upon these Red Notices. Many were forced to undergo costly extradition proceedings -- often while held in jail. Families have been separated for months, deaths of loved ones missed, and businesses have gone bankrupt; all because of these wrongful listings.”
Stirling’s recent clients celebrated the deletion of their names from Interpol’s database last month, with one stating, “It is like being freed from prison, I can’t believe it, it’s finally over!” Another family’s ordeal came to an end, relaying “You made us so happy. I have not seen my parents smile for so long. Me too. I feel like the world has opened up again. We keep reading the letter over and over. You are an amazing person. You helped me and I owe you. Thank you!” Many cases, Stirling explains, involve people who have already been victimised by unscrupulous business partners in the Gulf who manipulate their local court systems to persecute foreign professionals they scammed. “The overwhelming majority of these Notices arise from cheque cases in Dubai or Doha where a local partner or associate illegally cashes a security cheque in violation of contractual agreements with our client. When the cheque bounces, they file criminal charges with conviction following almost automatically soon thereafter. The client is then hit with an Interpol Red Notice in an attempt to force them to pay the local off. Time and again, these wrongful listings severely compound the injustices our clients have already suffered. While we are reliably successful in getting these Notices removed, Interpol takes an inordinate amount of time to process our petitions, and the toll it takes on our clients in the interim can be devastating.”
Stirling founded IPEX after over a dozen years as CEO of Detained in Dubai, during which she noted the dramatic abuse of Interpol by Gulf States and the organisation’s persistent failure to enact much needed reforms. “We have helped hundreds of people get their names removed from Interpol’s database, people who committed no crimes; people who should never have been subjected to Red Notices; and we will continue lobbying Interpol for greater transparency and accountability until abuses like these are completely eliminated.”