How red notices systems were developed, Interpol. File image
How red notices systems were developed, Interpol. File image

Former police officer speaks about how she helped to develop Interpol’s red notices for fugitives

By Genevieve Serra Time of article published Sep 25, 2021

Share this article:

Cape Town - A former serious and violent crimes investigator from Cape Town who is now working in the United States of America for their policing, has shed light on how she was part of the systems developed for red notices for fugitives.

A red notice is a worldwide search for wanted criminals led by Interpol.

Dr Grainne Perkins, holds a PhD in Criminology from UCT, a Master’s in Public Administration and Master’s in criminology and also spent 15 years as an operational police investigating officer.

She investigated murders and organised crime which led her to work internationally with Interpol.

While Perkins cannot speak in the capacity of Interpol as she no longer works for them, she spoke on how she had been part of the development of systems of red notices.

She could not speak about past cases due to security reasons.

The South African police confirmed they reached out to Interpol to assist with wanted persons once they had exhausted avenues.

Perkins said it all began in 2010, when the alerts were called: INFRA-RED, which stands for International Fugitive Round-up and Arrest-Red Notice.

The process involved 45 officers from 29 different countries, attempting to arrest fugitives in 190 countries.

Perkins added the red notice was one of the most powerful tools to get a wanted person and that it was important that each state issued their own warrant before the arrest.

“Red alerts are only alerts-to-arrest warrants but they can stop/restrict travel movements,” she said.

“Some countries will arrest on the information but it is dependent on each state. For example, many European countries would want the European Arrest warrant before they actually arrest. In 2009 a resolution was passed at the 78th General Assembly to create an active fugitive investigation operation led by the FIS (Fugitive Investigative Support) unit.

“The Fugitive Investigative Support Unit in Interpol’s General Secretariat, based in Lyon, France, is an expert group which works under the Operational Support Directorate.

“This unit works closely with National Central Bureaus in attempting to locate and arrest international fugitives across its network of 190 countries.

She said the first such operation was held in 2010.

“This involved 45 officers from 29 different countries. The FIS team recognises the Interpol RED Notice as one of the most powerful instruments available to police for tracking fugitives. Upon application, this notice can then be circulated immediately to 190 countries. This notice seeks the provisional arrest of the wanted person with a view to extradition to the seeking country.

“This operation brings law enforcement officers from around the world together in order to locate and arrest high-profile criminals.

Perkins added that the operation focuses on serious cases involving such crimes as murder, child sexual abuse, rape, fraud, corruption, drug trafficking and money-laundering.

“Other concerns are the accuracy of the information in each RED Notice - as in when was the information last updated by the country who wants the individual on the notice itself.”

Interpol has indicated to the Weekend Argus they are not able to comment on individual cases or individuals.

This week, Dutch fugitive Guus Kouwenhoven attempted having his extradition to the Netherlands dismissed by the Supreme Court of Appeal in South Africa but his appeal was lost - and claimed Interpol would not be interested in his case because of an extradition treaty.

Kouvenhoven could face his sentence in the Netherlands.

Kouwenhoven was convicted of arms trafficking in Liberia and fled to South Africa in 2016 and 2017, though not in his own country, he was convicted in absentia to 19 years’ imprisonment.

He had been arrested in Cape Town.

Weekend Argus

Share this article: