Interpol elects Emirati general accused of rights abuses as president

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Emirati Major General Ahmed Naser al-Raisi speaks on his phone during the first day of the Interpol annual assembly in Istanbul, Turkey, on November 23, 2021. (Photo by AP)

An Emirati general accused of torture has been appointed as the head of the International Criminal Police Organization, commonly known as Interpol, despite widespread opposition from human rights activists.

“Mr Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi of the United Arab Emirates has been elected to the post of President (4-yr term),” Interpol tweeted on Thursday.

Raisi, who is currently the inspector general at the UAE's Interior Ministry, was elected as the new Interpol president during the international law enforcement body’s General Assembly in the Turkish city of Istanbul.

The controversial appointment follows generous funding by the UAE for the Lyon, France-based organization.

Two British men, who were formerly imprisoned in the UAE, have recently accused Raisi of torture and filed legal complaints against him.

“He is absolutely responsible for torture. The message his candidacy sends is that not only can you do this and get away with it, but be rewarded,” Matthew Hedges, one of the ex-inmates, told The Guardian.

Earlier this month, three European Parliament members wrote a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to warn of the impact the Emirati 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 organization to carry out its mission effectively," they wrote.

In October, a coalition of 19 organizations condemned the UAE’s “poor human rights record, including the systematic use of torture and ill-treatment in state security facilities.”

They also said Raisi is "part of a security apparatus that continues to systematically target peaceful critics, rendering civic space virtually non-existent."

The appointment would “damage Interpol’s reputation and stand in great contradiction to the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the organization’s mission,” they warned.

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