United Arab Emirates: Always Get The Man You Want: An Overview Of Recent Amendments To INTERPOL Red Notices And Their Current Application In The UAE

Last Updated: 11 October 2017
Article by Ibtissem Lassoued and Adam Wolstenholme

The UAE as an enterprising country attracts individuals from around the world, with the vast majority of residents being expatriates. Whilst most expatriates enjoy the attractions of life in the UAE, some of a more nefarious character seek to exploit individuals and companies and then sail off into the sunset, returning to countries where they think they will be safe from the UAE authorities. The UAE, through a series of recent initiatives such as the October 2016 amendments to the Federal Penal Code, are clamping down on criminal activities both within the UAE and abroad. With this more international approach, our clients regularly approach us and request our assistance in locating and extraditing criminals from overseas. We also represent international clients who have been detained and arrested in the UAE and who themselves are sought for extradition. Whilst effecting the return of criminals to face justice is never easy, a solid understanding and appreciation of the international extradition framework and the use of the International Criminal Police Organisation's (INTERPOL) dispersal and Red Notice systems allows us to better assist our clients and the UAE public authorities in their efforts to pursue justice.

Further to our article in Al Tamimi & Company's Law Update , 'Navigating the Minefield of Mutual Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters', which provides an overview of INTERPOL and its initiatives, the following addresses the recent developments in INTERPOL's procedures and how they may affect our clients in the UAE.

In November 2016 INTERPOL, whose headquarters are in Lyon, France, introduced a number of structural reforms aimed at altering the way member states use and approach the Red Notices system when seeking extradition of a fugitive from a foreign jurisdiction. Red Notices are alerts circulated by INTERPOL to all member countries which identify an individual wanted for arrest by another jurisdiction or an international tribunal, seeking his or her extradition. The changes, specifically targeted at strengthening the review procedures once a notice request has been received or circulated, highlight the need for prosecutors to properly prepare criminal cases before submitting the request to the General Secretariat of INTERPOL.

As an organisation, INTERPOL has been criticised for its failures in preventing abuse of its Red Notice system, which has led to severe consequences for sometimes undeserving recipients. Requisite procedures relating to international notices are provided by INTERPOL's Rules on the Processing of Data but following a review of the supervisory mechanisms it was revealed that the integrity of the system had been undermined, leaving it rife with instances of abuse. Some states are perceived to have flouted Articles 2 and 3 of INTERPOL's constitution, which prevent Red Notices or dispersals in cases that do not comply with international principles of human rights or are based on discrimination, regardless of its form. In efforts to address these abuses and increase transparency, INTERPOL has implemented a number of strategic reforms across a number of its internal functions. The following highlights the most relevant reforms:

First, internal vetting procedures enacted prior to a Red Notice being published have been reinforced. New measures involve the deployment of a dedicated expert 'task force'; a multidisciplinary team comprising lawyers, policemen and analysts charged with providing support and expertise to the internal review and vetting process. By introducing increased vetting, INTERPOL has raised the bar on requests from states as they now have a greater ability to detect and prevent illegitimate Notices before they reach circulation.

Additionally, the capacity of the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL's Files (CCF) has been strengthened through the creation of an independent Requests Chamber. As per Article 28 of the new statute, which entered into force on 11th March 2017 establishing the CCF, the Request Chamber will now have exclusive power to review all appeals for access to or the correction or deletion of data, including outstanding Red Notices. Not only will members of the Chamber be permitted to make binding decisions over the repeal of notices, but it is intended that the process will also be subject to a greater level of transparency. Limited access to data has previously been a significant barrier to defending against Red Notices in the past and will have important ramifications for anyone attempting to combat spurious extradition requests.

In regards to reviewing and appealing the imposition of Red Notices, the newly established expedited timeframes for replying to requests will provide opportunity to those seeking to oppose abusive Red Notices. This is important not only for protecting targeted individuals from illegitimate notices, but also, going forward, for preserving the legitimacy of Red Notices and INTERPOL itself.

The immediate consequence of an improved review mechanism is a highlighted awareness of the onus on prosecutors to present a case that is capable of withstanding stronger appeals and to ensure that Red Notice requests are successful. With greater access to the data underpinning each request and with more rigorous standards applied in each review, National Central Bureaus (NCBs) responsible for submitting all requests on behalf of their respective states are opening themselves to a much wider market of potential criticism. Countries that have built a reputation for filing cases that are frequently rejected are more likely to face difficulties as the trend develops, and likewise states that are known to comply with INTERPOL's standards will likely experience smoother cooperation with recipient jurisdictions. This process of quid pro quo should underline the importance of proper presentation of requests for INTERPOL's assistance from state authorities and, at a primary level, of the legal representatives of those seeking international assistance.

An appreciation of these evolving protocols concerning Red Notices is critical, as this forms a significant part of preparation of cases and subsequently of law enforcement in the UAE. As touched on above, this is particularly important for a country that has both a transient population and well-known profile as an international hub. Due to this international standing, the UAE is well versed in the procedures of INTERPOL and is becoming increasingly involved in the global efforts to combat crime.

UAE's Role in the International Effort to Combat Crime

As part of the country's 2021 Vision, the UAE has set itself the objective of becoming the safest place in the world, a critical tenet of its efforts to further boost its social and business appeal. In order to better both prevention and prosecution of crime, the UAE will rely heavily on all branches of law enforcement both domestically and abroad. In recognition of this and to further this objective, the UAE government has signalled its commitment to improving international judicial cooperation through a number of different initiatives. In March of this year, the UAE donated $54 million (USD) to INTERPOL's Foundation For A Safer World, providing resources for key projects aimed at enhancing the organisation's ability to combat terrorism and organised crime. The UAE has also joined forces with Europol and other cooperating parties in Operation Dragon, a joint action effort that targets organised crime networks operating in crime hotspots.

These international ventures highlight long-term efforts to promote judicial cooperation within the region, and are bolstered through the establishment of an INTERPOL style agency between GCC countries, known as GCC-Pol. GCC-Pol is based in Abu Dhabi and currently functions as a law enforcement branch of the GCC, with the intention of providing developed methods of intelligence sharing and operational coordination. INTERPOL and GCC-Pol signed an agreement in November 2016 to establish inter-agency cooperation, signifying the regional agency's ambition to become an effective tool to enhance the rule of law in the Gulf.

Threshold for a Red Notice

One benefit of the increased transparency in INTERPOL's review mechanisms is a clearer indication of the standards cases must reach in order for a Notice request to be approved. The reforms give clear priority to preserving INTERPOL's compliance with Article 3 of its constitution, which states that:

"It is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character."

At its crux, this principle is enshrined to protect INTERPOL's neutrality and to shield it from invoking any kind of political liability. This is central to the agency's ability to maintain its credibility, operate independently and implement a universally acceptable mechanism to track criminals internationally. Furthermore, it is intended to act as a deterrent against the sinister practice of prosecutors pursuing spurious criminal accusations, most commonly perpetrated by states with their own political agenda. As evidenced through the wording of the article itself and by the report that provoked this latest wave of reforms, the article provides little guidance and assistance as a measure to protect against this abuse. As a routine defence, the 'Predominance Test' is applied on a case-by-case basis to determine whether political, military, religious or racial arguments form the foundations of a case. The longevity of this issue and its failing defences are indicative of how strengthened measures are necessary to improve INTERPOL's resilience to abusive practices. Evidently, new cases will be subjected to a much higher standard of scrutiny and need to be prepared accordingly.

Meeting the ethical standards of Article 3 will not be sufficient to guarantee the acceptance of a Red Notice request. Intensified examination of cases and wider access to case details confers even greater importance on the preparation of a full criminal complaint.

In the UAE, a system is employed whereby local authorities initially issue a local travel ban and subsequently liaise with the National Central Bureau in Abu Dhabi in order to request that they apply for an international arrest warrant. Even if all of the prerequisite information is contained in the file, the success of the request is still contingent on the fulfilment of INTERPOL's minimum criteria for processing data. Despite the appearance of straightforward standards, Red Notice requests are still subject to a degree of subjectivity in the decision-making process that can make approvals or denials seem arbitrary. Details of previous cases disclosed by investigative reports and INTERPOL's Repository of Practice on Article 3 expose areas of INTERPOL's legislation that are ambiguous in their implementation and create significant room for discretion on a case by case basis. The aforementioned Predominance Test, for example, has not been grounded in consistent application of specific evaluation criteria but rather appears to have been subject to the subjective and selective interpretation of facts available to the decision maker. Rather than abandoning Red Notices as a futile exercise, when advising clients lawyers should anticipate such challenges to any international requests and accordingly present their cases in the most convincing manner possible.


The UAE has already shown itself to be proactive in INTERPOL's initiatives and the nation, as the seat for the GCC-Pol, will bear a great responsibility in navigating INTERPOL's rules and procedures. In today's global world and specifically with the UAE being a home for many nationalities, those who are victims of international crimes require an effective remedy no matter where the culprit is. If you are going to get your man and bring him to justice, preparation and effective representation are imperative before embarking upon the lengthy road to international extradition.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions