It is of fundamental importance to know the meanings behind Interpol Notices and your rights in the event of an alert affecting you personally. This information will give you the knowledge you need to figure out the next step in proceedings. The following article will allow you to orient yourself and find the next procedural step. We will explain the different forms of Interpol Notices, including diffusion notices and what they mean.

Contact our lawyers for extradition law if you require more direct and personalised assistance following reading this article. Upon receiving information about your case and the nature of the notice received, they will provide the specialised counsel you require.


Interpol – Who are they?

Interpol stands for International Criminal Police Organisation. The organisation is based in Lyon, France and, with 194 member states, constitutes the second-largest international organisation after the United Nations (UN).

Interpol aims for more intensive international cooperation where police work is concerned, thus supporting national police in its member states in an age of globalisation and the internationalisation of crime. In other words, Interpol’s goal is to help police forces worldwide solve crimes by providing a global communication system.

Interpol’s responsibilities lie in providing databases and information for global communication between the member states, thus enabling a worldwide exchange of information. They notify member states of searches for persons in other countries as we will see, such persons can be suspects, witnesses, or those deemed dangerous to the public. Interpol notices are primarily used to locate a specific person wanted by a member state.

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Interpol Red and Blue Notices

An Interpol Red Notice is issued if a person is to be located and arrested for subsequent extradition. It allows member states to inform each other about criminal suspects and thus enable other member states to arrest the suspect pending extradition. Red Notices are issued at the request of a member state and thus not by Interpol itself. They inform the police authorities about the person’s appearance, contain personal data, information about the offence they are charged with and regularly a national arrest warrant. However, Interpol is not obliged to issue a Red Notice because a member state requests it. Instead, it must comply with the Interpol Statutes and data processing regulations, which the Commission must first examine for the Control of Interpol’s Files (CCF).

An Interpol Blue Notice serve a similar purpose as Red Notices but are still not the same. Blue Notices are used to obtain additional information about a suspect. A Blue Notice relates to the movements of a suspect or a witness but does not provide for their arrest. It is also not an international arrest warrant. Therefore, the person to whom the alert refers may not be wanted for a crime committed or already convicted. Instead, they may seek through this channel because they may be able to provide further information on criminal proceedings.


Interpol Notices: Other Notices

There are other forms of Interpol Notices which can also be issued. Depending on the type of request, they are categorised by Interpol and given different colours. Each of the Interpol Notices is listed below:

  • Interpol Green Notice: This type of notice can be provided if police forces want to warn each other about people suspected of being a danger to the public. Those people who the police warn about are those who have committed criminal offences before and are deemed to be likely to commit them again. Interpol Green Notices are used regularly for warnings about serial sex offenders.
  • Interpol Yellow Notice: This form of notice is used to locate missing persons, especially those unable to identify themselves. These cases can often involve minors and those who may not be of sound mind. Such notices are given in cases of child abduction, kidnappings and in times of unexplained disappearances.
  • Interpol Orange Notice: Orange Notices are used to warn of an event, person, object, or process that poses a severe and immediate threat to the public. They often refer to illegal items, parcel bombs, and other dangerous and explosive materials to be tracked down. The danger may also refer to the endangerment of persons or property.
  • Interpol Black Notice: A Black Notice is given when Interpol needs information about unidentified bodies. In many of these cases, the persons found may have used false identities. Interpol will circulate photographs of the body and, when possible, fingerprints and information about the body to help with the identification process.
  • Interpol Purple Notice: A Purple Notice is issued to search for or provide information on the modus operandi (specific pattern of committing the crime), objects, devices and concealment methods used by criminals. Often these refer to criminal groups or organised gangs. In the past, Purple Notices have also been used to track ships connected with poaching and piracy.

Diffusion Orders

Diffusions Orders are less formal types of alerts. They are also used to forward requests for arrest or ascertain the defendant’s whereabouts to Interpol member states. A Diffusion Order is communicated directly by the relevant Interpol National Centre Bureau (NCB) of a state (in Germany, the Federal Criminal Office) to any member state or the entire Interpol network. This ensures that the request can be incorporated into the respective police system of these member states within the shortest possible time. Diffusions, just like Interpol Notices, are categorised according to the type of request and marked with colours but are otherwise treated the same way. In particular, the requirements of the Interpol Statute and the rules for data processing must also be observed here.


How Can an Interpol Notice be Challenged?

When a country requests the issuance of an Interpol Notice, the Notice must follow specific rules. For example, Interpol will not issue a notice if it believes that the case is politically or militarily motivated. The case in question must be of a criminal nature.

When issuing an Interpol Notice, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty is still in place. If the person to whom a Red Notice is issued believes that they will face rights violations in the event of extradition, mainly that they will not receive a fair trial, they can challenge the order. The right to a fair trial is protected by Article 6 ECHR and must be respected when issuing Interpol Notices.

The right to a fair trial and that the orders should be given for non-political, military or other improper reasons are just some reasons why an order can be challenged (read more about removing a Red Notice here). Sometimes, a case is not entirely straightforward, and the Interpol Notice’s political nature is not apparent. Legal advice can be crucial in such cases to provide relevant evidence and to obtain a successful challenge.


Legal Representation in the Field of Extradition and Interpol

At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our team of extradition lawyers is experienced and knowledgeable in dealing with Interpol Notices as well as extradition matters. We have represented clients from all over the world in a diverse range of cases. With offices in Cologne, Aachen and Düsseldorf as well as conference rooms in Berlin, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich, our lawyers can meet clients all over Germany. In addition, however, we also offer professional online consultations, which are particularly suitable for those who are abroad. Whether a personal consultation is desired or necessary, our lawyers are always willing to travel to the relevant country for this purpose.

We offer our services in several languages, including English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese and Turkish, and can communicate via encrypted channels. Should you require further information about Interpol Notices and their potential impact on your situation, please contact us directly. Our lawyers look forwards to hearing from you and assisting you in your matter.

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