DUBAI: An Emirati general, accused of torture, has been elected president of Interpol, the global police agency announced, despite concerns from human rights organisations and members of the European parliament.
Emirati General Ahmed Nasser Al Raisi, head of the UAE’s security forces, will take on a largely ceremonial and voluntary role. “Mr Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi of the United Arab Emirates has been elected to the post of president,” Interpol tweeted.
The appointment follows generous funding by the UAE for Interpol, which is based in Lyon, France, and accusations Abu Dhabi has abused its system of “red notices” for wanted suspects to persecute political dissidents.
General-Al Raisi was elected following three rounds of voting during which he received 68.9 per cent of votes cast by member countries, according to a statement issued by the Interpol. The Interpol secretary general, Jürgen Stock, handles day-to-day management of the organisation. Stock was given a second five-year term in 2019.
Complaints of torture were filed against Raisi in recent months in France and Turkey, which is hosting Interpol’s general assembly in Istanbul this week.
Three European parliament members wrote a letter dated 11 November to the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, to warn of the impact the general’s appointment would have on Interpol.
“The election of General al-Raisi would undermine the mission and reputation of Interpol and severely affect the ability of the organisation to carry out its mission effectively,” they wrote.
And in October 2020, 19 NGOs, including Human Rights Watch, expressed concern about the possible choice of Raisi, whom they described as being “part of a security apparatus that continues to systematically target peaceful critics”.
One of the complainants against Raisi, British national Matthew Hedges, said he was detained and tortured between May and November 2018 in the United Arab Emirates after he was arrested on false charges of espionage during a study trip.
In another complaint, lawyers for the Gulf Centre for Human Rights accuse the general of “acts of torture and barbarism” committed against government critic Ahmed Mansoor.