Following the nomination and subsequent appointment as Iran’s defence minister of Mr Ahmad Vahidi, who is the subject of an INTERPOL Red Notice, there have been a series of misleading references made about INTERPOL in relation to the case.
The Organization is now taking this opportunity to set the record straight.
The Red Notice against Mr Vahidi was published in November 2007 at the request of the authorities in Argentina, where he is wanted on the basis of his alleged involvement in the 1994 bombing of the Jewish AMIA centre in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people and injured hundreds.
A Red Notice, or an international alert for a wanted person, is not an international arrest warrant. It is one of the ways in which INTERPOL informs its 187 member countries that an arrest warrant has been issued for an individual by a national judicial authority, in this case, Argentina.
INTERPOL’s role has been to notify the international law enforcement community that multiple arrest warrants were issued by an Argentinian judge, including one for Mr Vahidi. INTERPOL’s General Assembly in Marrakesh in November 2007 endorsed the issuance of Red Notices for six out of nine individuals, with one issued for Mr Vahidi at a time when he was already serving as Iran’s deputy defence minister.
The issuance or non-issuance of a Red Notice for any individual cannot be construed as an indication of the strength or weakness of the case against that individual, which is a matter for the appropriate judicial authorities to decide. When a Red Notice is issued, INTERPOL's role is to alert its 187 member countries to the wanted status of individuals in at least one of its member countries, and to assist national police forces in identifying and locating those individuals.
INTERPOL respects the sovereignty and independence of each of its 187 member countries, and any decision to arrest or not arrest a person who is the subject of an INTERPOL Red Notice is made by each individual member country.
INTERPOL cannot demand that any member country arrest the subject of a Red Notice.
However, many of INTERPOL’s member countries consider a Red Notice a valid request for provisional arrest, especially if they are linked to the requesting country via a bilateral extradition treaty. In cases where arrests are made based on a Red Notice, these are made by national police officials in INTERPOL member countries.
INTERPOL does not engage in matters of a political, military, religious or racial character. This is prohibited by Article 3 of its Constitution, and any demand for a Red Notice is assessed according to this stricture.
INTERPOL therefore continues to encourage its National Central Bureaus involved in the case to co-operate in this matter on a bilateral basis, and INTERPOL’s General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, France, stands ready to assist in any way.