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France opens inquiry into alleged torture by Interpol’s Emirati head

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)
The United Arab Emirates donated tens of millions to Interpol. (AFP)

Anti-terror prosecutors in France have initiated a preliminary inquiry into torture and acts of barbarism allegedly committed by Emirati general Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi, who currently heads the Interpol. 

The inquiry follows a legal complaint by an NGO that holds Raisi responsible for his role as a high-ranking official at the United Arab Emirates interior ministry for the torture of an opposition figure.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), which holds Raisi responsible for the the inhumane treatment of Ahmed Mansoor, an opponent of the Emirati government, lodged its complaint in January with the anti-terror prosecutors unit whose brief includes handling crimes against humanity.

Raisi last November became the president of the international crime-fighting agency, Interpol, after generous funding from the UAE for the agency based in Lyon.

There were also accusations that Abu Dhabi had abused Interpol’s system of so-called “red notices” for wanted suspects to persecute political dissidents.

Human rights groups had already made allegations of torture against Raisi when he ran for president of Interpol, saying they feared the agency would be at risk of exploitation by repressive regimes.

The inquiry into Raisi was being handled by the prosecution unit for crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes, reports said.

William Bourdon, a high-profile lawyer acting for the GCHR, said it was “totally incomprehensible” that the prosecutors had not immediately ordered Raisi’s arrest “given that he is in France”.

Earlier, three European Parliament members wrote a letter dated November 11 to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to warn against the impact his 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 2021, 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 was "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.

The Emirati Embassy in Germany, however, refuted the charges and claimed that the new Interpol president was a “distinguished professional with a 40-year track record in community and national policing”, a report in DW said.

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