What is the status of the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files (CCF)?
According to INTERPOL’s Constitution, the CCF is an independent organ of INTERPOL with a mandate to oversee the processing of personal data by the Organization.
What is the role of the CCF?
- Monitors the application of the Organization's data protection rules to personal data processed by INTERPOL;
- Advises the Organization with regard to any operations or projects concerning the processing of personal information;
- Processes requests for access to INTERPOL's files.
Who can be a member of the CCF?
The CCF is comprised of five members appointed for three-year terms. Members are appointed because of their expertise, and in such a way as to allow the CCF to carry out its mission completely independently:
- A chairperson, appointed because (s)he holds or has held senior judicial or data protection posts
- Two data protection experts, who hold or have held senior positions in this field
- An electronic data processing expert, who holds or has held a senior position in this field
- An expert with recognized international experience in police matters, in particular international police cooperation
What are the main principles in INTERPOL’s rules that are applicable to the CCF?
The main principles set out in INTERPOL’s rules are the following:
- Respect of fundamental human rights – Article 2 of INTERPOL’s Constitution;
- Neutrality – Article 3 of INTERPOL’s Constitution;
- National sovereignty – primarily Article 59 of INTERPOL’s Rules on the Processing of Data and Article 11(a) of the Rules on the Control of Information and Access to INTERPOL’s Files (RCI);
- Respect of data protection principles – primarily lawfulness and fairness, purpose, accuracy, access, proportionality, non-discrimination, security, supervision and sanction, and non-discrimination.
What is the legal basis for the applicable rules on data protection?
What kinds of information can the CCF access?
The CCF has free and unlimited access to all personal information processed by INTERPOL, and to any system for processing such information, irrespective of the place, form or medium involved as far as possible.
What are spot checks?
Spot checks are data checks made by the CCF, which are either random or designed to target specific information or a type of processing.
Why does the CCF make spot checks?
Spot checks constitute an extremely effective way of checking whether personal information received by the General Secretariat and stored in its files is processed in accordance with INTERPOL's rules and the basic data-protection principles adopted by the Organization.
Spot checks are made to gain a better understanding of the organization's system for processing police information, the problems it encounters, and the risks and requirements of international police and judicial cooperation. Spot checks allow the CCF to effectively carry out its role of adviser to the Organization on data-processing matters.
Procedure for individual requests
When is a request to access or challenge information in INTERPOL’s files admissible?
Requests for access or challenges are admissible if:
- The request includes an original letter, signed by the requesting party, explaining the purpose of the request;
- It is written in one of the organization’s official languages (English, French, Spanish, or Arabic);
- The request comes from the person whom it concerns, or from that person's duly authorized representative or his/her legal representative;
- If the request comes from the duly authorized representative of the person who is the subject of the request, the request shall be accompanied by an original power of attorney signed by the said person authorizing his/her representative to access any information about that person recorded in INTERPOL's files;
- If the request comes from the legal representative of the person who is the subject of the request, it shall be accompanied by a written declaration to that effect from the legal representative;
- The request shall be accompanied by a copy of an identity document belonging to the person who is the subject of the request, in order to prove his/her identity
How do I request to delete or update my information?
If a request calls into question the processing of information in INTERPOL’s files, it should follow the guidelines for admissibility, and also be accompanied by a summary of the arguments in support of the request, making specific reference to any relevant documents attached.
The CCF is only obliged to take into consideration attached documents which have been translated into one of INTERPOL’s official languages and certified if necessary.
How is my request analysed once it is considered to be admissible?
Each request received is examined in detail by the CCF Secretariat. After admissibility is determined by the procedure listed above, a detailed assessment of the request by reference to the Organization’s Rules is performed. This will often involve gathering more information from the requester, the source of information, and open source research. A summary of the case is then submitted to a Commission session for discussion and recommendations.
Who may the CCF consult regarding requests?
In order to obtain further information needed to determine if information registered in INTERPOL’s files has been processed in compliance with INTERPOL’s rules, the CCF may consult the INTERPOL General Secretariat, the source of the information (generally an INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB)), the requesting party, and even the Executive Committee in the case of a final disagreement with the General Secretariat.
How are Article 3 arguments evaluated?
Article 3 of INTERPOL’s Constitution states: “It is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.”
Requests containing arguments based on Article 3 are evaluated on a case-by-case basis by reviewing different elements including, but not limited to:
- The predominance of ordinary law crimes over political, military, religious or racial elements of the case;
- The refusal of a country to act or respond to a CCF request;
- Resolutions adopted by INTERPOL’s General Assembly expressing INTERPOL’s interest in:
- cases involving terrorism and for membership of a terrorist organization
- cases concerning serious international crimes (genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes).
What is the predominance test?
The predominance test includes an evaluation of the ordinary law criminal aspect and the Article 3 aspect (such as the political aspect).
All relevant information is examined, including the following non-exhaustive list:
- The nature of the offence, namely the charges and the underlying facts;
- The status of the persons concerned;
- The identity of the source of the information;
- The position expressed by a Member or authorized international entities other than the source of the information;
- The obligations under international law;
- The implications on the neutrality of the Organization;
- The general context of the case.
What kind of communication should I expect from the CCF after I submit my request?
The general procedure regarding CCF communication with requesting individuals includes information such as:
- An acknowledgement of the receipt of the request;
- Information relating to the admissibility of the request;
- A request for further information if necessary;
- Confirmation that your request is being processed;
- A possible interim reply to inform the individual of the request’s current status;
- Explanation of applicable procedure pending the study of the request;
- The results of the processing of your request.
Why does the CCF not give frequent and detailed updates to individuals while processing each request?
In order to most efficiently and effectively process all requests, the CCF gives necessary information to requesting individuals, but does not maintain constant contact with individuals while processing requests. The CCF instead focuses its efforts on reviewing the material the individual submits, conducting open source research, and communicating with the source of the information.
Why may there be delays in processing requests?
The CCF receives many requests on a daily basis. It processes these requests as quickly as possible while still reviewing all the elements and maintaining the integrity of its procedures. The CCF must communicate with the source of the information registered in INTERPOL’s files to both gather information relevant to the request, and to obtain authorization to disclose information to the requesting party. Therefore, delays may occur as a result of the number of requests received, and the time it takes for sources of information to respond to CCF requests for information and authorization.
How long does it take before the CCF gives its decision?
Requests are processed in order of arrival. The CCF may, however, decide to give priority to a particular request. The CCF acknowledges receipt of the request upon receipt. It then consults parties concerned, and reaches a conclusion based on all the elements of the request. The INTERPOL General Secretariat then has one month to comment on the conclusions of the CCF. In the case of a disagreement or need for further information, the entire process of consulting parties can continue until the CCF decides that its conclusions are final.
When the CCF’s decision has become final, it notifies the requesting party thereof. The Commission may also address interim answers to the requesting party before a decision has become final.
How much does it cost to request access to or challenge information in INTERPOL’s files?
The processing, by the CCF, of requests to access or challenge information in INTERPOL’s files is free of charge.
Will the CCF communicate my information to anyone?
In processing the request, it may be necessary to communicate certain items of information to INTERPOL’s General Secretariat or the National Central Bureaus. However, information is not communicated if the requesting party specifically prohibits the CCF from communicating certain information. In that case, however, it may be detrimental to the requesting party, as it restricts the CCF’s ability to successfully process the request.
What type of information does the CCF share with the INTERPOL General Secretariat and/or National Central Bureaus?
The CCF generally consults INTERPOL National Central Bureaus (NCBs) on the requesting party’s arguments. However, the CCF never shares personal or confidential information with NCBs that is not already known by the NCBs, such as elements of identification or location of the subject.
Will my request be recorded in INTERPOL’s files?
No, however, the CCF is unable to guarantee that information communicated by requesting parties will remain confidential unless the information is sent to it directly by post to the CCF.
As mentioned above, the CCF may nonetheless need to communicate certain items of information to the INTERPOL General Secretariat or to the sources of information concerned in order to be able to process the request, unless the requesting party opposes.
Can I meet with the CCF?
The CCF does not generally meet requesting parties or their duly appointed agents or legal representatives other than in exceptional circumstances if, after examining the case, it considers this necessary.
Is it possible to appeal a CCF decision?
An application for re-examination of a request by the CCF may be made by the requesting party only when it is based on the discovery of a fact which would probably have led to a different conclusion if that fact had been known at the time the request was processed.
Does the CCF publish its decisions or communicate with the media?
The CCF produces an annual report which is published on INTERPOL’s website. It is also free to make public statements. However, the CCF does not publish decisions that contain personal information.
What are the limits of the CCF?
Neither the CCF nor INTERPOL should in any way:
- Presume to substitute its judgment for that of the judicial authorities charged with assessing the appropriateness of extradition. The CCF confines its assessment to whether or not the request for international police cooperation through INTERPOL channels complies with the Organization’s Rules, by asking the relevant questions in order to determine whether or not police information in INTERPOL’s files is accurate; and, more generally, whether or not it should actually be recorded, is up-to-date, or should be retained in the files. The CCF otherwise defers to the principle of national sovereignty which underpins the INTERPOL system.
- Provide an assessment or opinion on possible extradition procedures and outcomes;
- Determine whether, under the terms of a legal cooperation agreement between the two countries, a decision to discontinue proceedings should be taken;
- Provide assistance with visa applications, or issue certificates of good conduct.
The CCF will not process a request in the following cases:
- The request is essentially the same as another request previously examined by the CCF and does not contain any new facts that justify re-examination, in accordance with Article 19 of the Operating Rules of the CCF;
- The request does not come within the scope of the CCF’s powers;
- The request is clearly unreasonable.
- The notion of “unreasonable” is assessed by taking into account, inter alia, the number or repetitive nature of requests submitted by the requesting party. If the request is rejected in whole or in part, the CCF will explain its reasons to the requesting party.