Detained in Dubai has secured the removal of another client’s name from the Interpol database after being subjected to an abusive Red Notice at the request of Qatar.
Interpol's system of Red Notices allows member countries to request the arrest and extradition of individuals who are wanted for prosecution or to serve a sentence. However, the system has been frequently misused and abused by some member countries, particularly Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and other Gulf States, to pursue individuals in foreign jurisdictions over financial disputes or debts, using Interpol as a tactic of intimidation, harassment, and extortion.
Detained in Dubai explained that the client, a British national who had been working in Qatar, had been charged and convicted in absentia for a bounced cheque. However, the cheque was written as security against a bank loan, which she had been paying off regularly for up to four years. The bulk of the loan had already been repaid when the client was abruptly laid off from her job, but she was informed by Qatar National Bank (QNB) that her final salary and parting bonus would cover the remaining balance. Despite these assurances, the security cheque for the total amount of the loan was wrongfully submitted for payment and inevitably bounced.
“The terms of the loan agreement clearly stipulated that our client’s employer was liable for the outstanding balance,” explained Radha Stirling, CEO and Founder of Detained in Dubai, “But QNB attempted to cash the security cheque for the full amount of the loan, without registering a full four years of payments; and they did not sort the issue out with our client’s employer. Instead, they opened a police case against her after she had already departed Qatar, and secured a conviction in absentia, followed swiftly by the issuance of a Red Notice on Interpol. This exact scenario has become so frequent from the Gulf States that many jurisdictions around the world no longer regard Red Notices issued on behalf of those countries as credible. Nevertheless, being listed on Interpol is tremendously disruptive and our client was indeed detained in Mykonos, Greece, when authorities discovered the Red Notice against her. She was forced to undergo a judicial review for possible extradition, but the Greek court ultimately dismissed the request for lack of merit. Even after the Greek authorities fulfilled the purpose of the Red Notice, our client’s name was not deleted from the Interpol system.”
Stirling said that this case highlights, yet again, the urgent need for serious reform in the way Interpol manages data collection and Red Notice requests, “Interpol applies no scrutiny to requests for Notices, even from habitual abusers of the system, and they have no process for automatic deletion once Notices become redundant. It can take months for Interpol to review removal requests, during which time the wrongfully listed can expect to be treated like fugitives or terrorists any time they travel. It exposes them to enormous emotional as well as financial trauma, and by all rights they should be compensated,” Stirling continued, “We have successfully removed so many clients from Interpol’s database over inappropriate Red Notices that a clear pattern of Interpol abuse by countries like Qatar had become absolutely undeniable. In each of these cases, innocent people have been put through needless suffering, reputational damage, and legal expense, and the blame belongs both to the countries requesting invalid Red Notices, and to Interpol itself for accepting such requests. We are currently exploring a class action suit on behalf of this ever-growing pool of clients to finally achieve some restitution for the ordeals they have been through.”
Over the past 15 years, Detained in Dubai has emerged as the most effective organisation for combatting wrongful Red Notices, boasting a 100% success rate in securing the deletion of inappropriate listings. CEO Radha Stirling has led the call for Interpol reform and founded a sister organisation dedicated to increasing Interpol’s transparency, accountability, ethical standards, and compliance with due process. “We have developed a relationship with Interpol over the years,” She explained, “We are able to offer clients a reliable approach to avoiding a wrongful listing, as well as being able to ensure that any such listing will be appropriately dealt with if or when they do occur. Every time we successfully secure the deletion of an invalid Red Notice, while we are of course happy for our clients, it provides further evidence that Interpol needs to do better, and we remain committed to achieving the necessary reforms that will enable Interpol to fulfil its important function to international policing without victimising the innocent.”