Interpol, the Red Notice and Philippine Extradition Treaties

SAUL HOFILEÑA JR. Source: International Extradition by Saul Hofileña Jr. and Daniel S. Hofileña, Baybayin Publishing, Manila, 2020.



The Manila Times


THE Interpol (International Police) was founded in Vienna, Austria in 1923 and is now based in Lyon, France. It is also known as the International Criminal Police Organization, an international organization that facilitates cooperation between the criminal police forces of, as of today, more than 194 member countries. One of its main functions is to track down fugitives from justice through the issuance of Red Notices. The Interpol is not a police force, but an organization for international police cooperation and communication. So, you must forget about Jacky Chan and his flying kicks. The Interpol connects to all countries through a secure communication system. The organization manages, as of today, 19 police databases and offers assistance to locate or to triangulate the whereabouts of fugitives from justice. It is an organization based on membership, and the General-Secretariat coordinates the policy and administrative tasks of the organization. It has a 1,000-member staff. Although its headquarters is in France, to comply with its constitution, which has specifically indicated that France will be its seat, the center of its activities involving cybercrime, research and development, and its Asian base is the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation which is based in Singapore. There are six other regional bureaus based in South America and Africa. According to its constitution, the aim of the Interpol is to ensure mutual assistance between criminal police authorities and develop institutions that would contribute in the prevention and suppression of ordinary crimes. The organization is prohibited from undertaking or intervening in any activity with a political, military, religious, racial character or color. The Interpol is a multilayered organization and is composed, among others of the General Assembly, the Executive Committee, the General Secretariat, etc. To further its aims, the Interpol needs the active cooperation of its members and each member must appoint a body which serves as the National Central Bureau which acts, among others, as a liaison office with the organization’s General Secretariat and the various departments in the bureaucracy of the member state. It is said that the Interpol National Central Bureau (NCB) is the heart of Interpol. The NCB is hosted by each member country. NCBs are connected to the General Secretariat through a network called 1-24/7, and they share information with other law enforcement agencies, NCBs of other Interpol member states and the general-secretariat offices worldwide. In the Philippines, the Interpol NCB-Manila is under the general supervision and control of the Philippine Center on Transnational Crime (PCTC) under the wing of the Office of the President. Executive Order 62 created the PCTC, and its mission is to formulate and implement a concerted program of action for all law enforcement, intelligence and other government agencies to fight transnational crimes. The Interpol’s General Secretariat provides services to member countries. The organization provides support in fighting crimes which are part of its program, viz: 1. Counterterrorism; 2. Organized and emerging crime; and 3. Cybercrime. It also provides assistance to States in extradition cases. One of the principal weapons in its arsenal is the Red Notice. According to the Interpol’s definition, a Red Notice is a request to law enforcement agencies worldwide to locate and assist in the provisional arrest of a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action. It contains two main types of information: 1. Information to identify the wanted person, such as his name, date of birth, nationality, hair and eye color, photographs and fingerprints if available, and 2. Information related to the crime he is sought for, which can be murder, rape, child abuse or armed robbery. Red Notices are published by Interpol at the request of a member country and must comply with Interpol’s Constitution and Rules. Red Notices are important because they are used to simultaneously alert all member countries about internationally wanted fugitives. Police in other countries can then be on the watch for them and use the Red Notice to support extradition proceedings. Besides providing information on the whereabouts of persons sought by governments, the Interpol may act as a conduit to secure the provisional arrest of a fugitive from justice. A clear example is the provision of Article X (3) of the Extradition Treaty between the Philippines and Thailand, which states: “A request for provisional arrest shall be sent in the Philippines to the National Bureau of Investigation, and in Thailand to the Director-General of the Police Department, either through diplomatic channels or direct by post or telegraph or through the International Police Criminal Organization (Interpol).” The extradition treaty between the Republic of the Philippines and Canada also allows the Requesting State to seek the help of the Interpol in order to effect the provisional arrest of a potential extraditee. I guess you can say that the Interpol is an all-seeing eye and its message is clear— we are everywhere. ***