Updated on
May, 12 2024
Dmytro Konovalenko
Written by

Delays in responses from CCF – Actual problem in communication

In 2023, we faced constant delays in receiving responses from the Commission for the control of INTERPOL’s files (hereinafter – the Commission, or CCF) to our requests, and in 2024 this problem is only getting worse.

It is worth paying attention to the legal regulation that establishes clear deadlines for communication between the applicant and the Commission.

Article 32 of the Statute of the CCF (hereinafter – the Statute) requires the Commission to examine the admissibility of each application and to inform the applicant of the admissibility of the application as soon as possible and no later than one month after its receipt by the Commission.

Based on Article 40 of the Statute, the CCF shall generally decide on a request for access within four months, and nine months for requests for deletion and/or correction of data, starting from the date on which requests were declared admissible.

So, we have two important procedure deadlines, depending on the type of request. The time limits within which the Commission declares such requests admissible is critical to meeting the deadline for reviewing a request for access or deletion.

Statistics on violation of deadlines by the Commission

However, in 2023-2024, we faced a systemic problem with the Commission’s noncompliance with the time requirement for recognizing a request as admissible. Out of 50 requests submitted to the Commission in 2023 and early 2024, only 4 applications were found admissible within 1 month of receipt by the Commission. About 20 requests were recognized as admissible with a short delay of 10 days to 1 month. All other 26 requests were found admissible after 2, 3 or even 4 months from the date of their receipt by the Commission.

For example, we have challenged the Red Notice of the client who was charged on contract killing by country X. The deletion request on data was received by the CCF on September 05, 2023. However, this request was recognized as admissible only on December 04, 2023. During this time, the client’s temporary residence permit in country B was revoked, and even this fact did not speed up the processing of the removal request.

At the same time, we have also dealt with super-fast responses, in less than 1 month. But as a rule, fast communication occurs in cases related to violation of Article 3 of the Interpol Constitution (political, military or religious persecution). For example, in one of our cases, a client was granted refugee status in country B, and at the same time there was a red notice from country A. The Commission received a request for data deletion on February 2, 2024, and the request was declared admissible on February 10, 2024, and on February 16, 2024, the Commission informed us that it had decided to temporarily block the red notice until the final decision of the Commission was made.

The main reasons for violation of the deadlines for providing responses

In such cases, our clients ask us the same question: why is this happening and what can we do about it?

The Chairperson of the Interpol File Control Commission answers why this is happening in her speech in 2023 during the 91st INTERPOL GENERAL ASSEMBLY in Vienna, Austria.Below is an excerpt from the Chairperson’s speech:

“Moreover, as pointed out last year during our presentation, the requests are more complex than they used to be, with the data often involving sophisticated allegations of fraud and public corruption and with the overwhelming majority of applicants seeking deletion of data being represented by attorneys. We note that this increase in workload has meant that the Commission has not always been able to immediately respond to questions from applicants or from NCBs concerning the status of their matters. We can assure you that the Commission is working to address these workload challenges, including in how quickly we respond to requests and questions. The Commission has continued to develop its internal procedures – it has improved the templates for communications with NCBs and applicants and has instituted some new automation processes. The Commission has also sought additional resources and information technology tools to enable it to fulfill its statutory mandate”.

“As for the Commission’s Requests Chamber, in 2022, it received over 2,258 new requests. This represents a 37% increase in new requests from 2021. Although we have seen significant increases in the numbers of requests over the recent years, a 37% increase is astounding. As you might imagine, the Commission is challenged in keeping up with the increase in new requests”.

It is therefore understandable that non-compliance with the Regulation’s timeframes of communication with the applicant is associated with an increase in the number and quality of cases examined by the Commission.

What are the consequences of violating the deadlines for recognizing requests as admissible

On the other hand, it is worth assessing how such a delay affects the quality of communication between the Commission and the applicant and the complaint process in general.

Increasing the time for recognizing a request as acceptable for consideration automatically increases the total time for reviewing and resolving a complaint on the merits.

By definition, the time for reviewing and resolving a deletion request should be as follows: 1 month for admissibility stage  + 9 months for consideration on the merits + 1 month for execution of the decision and notification of the applicant of its execution. In an ideal scenario, this is 11 months.

However, a delay at the admissibility stage, which can be 2-3 months on average, has a negative impact on the rights of the applicant, as he or she is in a state of uncertainty. This problem is particularly serious when the applicant is detained in another country or cannot travel due to restrictions.

Conclusions

Unfortunately, we cannot influence this systemic problem, so the only tool we have are reminder letters, which allow us to somehow encourage the Commission to communicate more quickly.

Dmytro Konovalenko
Dmytro Konovalenko
Lawyer, an expert in extradition and Interpol. He is a member of the International Bar Association. For more than 5 years he has been defending clients against international wanted notices from the USA, Russia, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and other countries. Dmytro has had a positive experience in taking preventive measures to block the search at the initial stages. Dmytro specializes in the defense of economic, political, and war crimes
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