A general from the United Arab Emirates that has previously been accused of complicity in torture has been elected as president of the global police agency Interpol. The inspector general of the UAE’s interior ministry, Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi, was elected after three rounds of voting took place at the agency’s general assembly in Istanbul, Turkey.
Human rights groups have led campaigns against the candidate run and election of the general, citing accusations of failing to investigate credible complaints of torture against UAE security forces. Gen Raisi denies the allegations. The UAE’s foreign ministry said he “strongly believes that the abuse or mistreatment by police is abhorrent and intolerable”.
The Interpol president role is part-time and unpaid and his duties will include chairing meetings of the executive committee. The committee supervises the work of Secretary General Jürgen Stock who is a full-time official who oversees the day-to-day running of Interpol.
Gen Raisi tweeted that it was an “honour” to be elected president and promised to “build a more transparent, diverse, and decisive organisation that works to ensure safety for all”.
In a separate statement, he declared that the UAE was “one of the world’s safest places” and that the Gulf Arab state continued to be the “most important force for positive change in the world’s most difficult region”.
Hiba Zayadin works as a researcher for Human Rights Watch and called it “a sad day for human rights and the rule of law worldwide”. She said the general was a “representative of arguably the most authoritarian governments in the Gulf, one that equates peaceful dissent with terrorism.”
The election of the new Interpol president was also condemned by the British academic Matthew Hedges, who has issued a claim for damages at the High Court in London that accuses Gen Raisi and three other senior UAE officials of being involved in the false imprisonment and torture he allegedly suffered in the UAE in 2018.
Hedges tweeted: “The inevitable election of Raisi to Interpol presidency is a serious attack on the values it stands for. His complicity in systematic torture and abuse is legitimised through Interpol and gives a green light to other authoritarian states that they can act without impunity.”
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