Interpol on Thursday chose a controversial UAE official as its new president. The decision was made during the agency’s annual General Assembly, which was held in Istanbul.
Major General Ahmed Naser al-Raisi, Inspector General in the Emirates Ministry of the Interior, was selected for a four-year term. Human rights groups have accused of participating in torture and arbitrary detentions in his country.
Al-Raisi was elected after three rounds of voting and received 68.9% of the vote in the last one, Interpol said.
Ali Ahmad and Matthew Hedges, two people who claim to have been tortured by forces under the command of General Ahmed Naser al-Raisi, the new director of Interpol. Photo: REUTER
“It is an honor to have been chosen to be the next president of Interpol,” al-Raisi said, as quoted by the agency.
“Interpol is an indispensable organization built on the strength of its partnerships. It is this collaborative spirit, coupled with its mission, that I will continue to foster as we work to achieve a safer world for people and communities, “he added.
The vote was closely followed as the entity’s first Chinese president, Meng Hongwei, disappeared mid-term during a business trip to China in 2018. It was later revealed that he had been arrested, charged with bribery and other alleged crimes.
On the other hand, the Brazilian Valdecy Urquiza will be the new vice president of the generational police organization for America, while the Nigerian Garba Baba Umar was elected vice president for Africa.
Grace Meng, the wife of former Interpol director Meng Hongwei, who disappeared during his tenure in 2018. Photo: AP
Accusations against the new director
Al-Raisi is accused of torture and he has criminal complaints against him in five countries, including France, where Interpol is based, and Turkey, where the election was held.
His election provoked an angry reaction from two British people who denounced him:
“This is a sad day for international justice and global policing,” said Matthew Hedges, a British doctoral student who spent nearly seven months incarcerated in the Emirates in 2018 on charges of espionage.
“It really scares me what this means for people who, like me, have been mistreated by the Emirates and forced to make false confessions under torture“He said in a statement sent by email. Hedges says he was subjected to torture and months of solitary confinement without access to a lawyer.
Ali Issa Ahmad, a soccer fan who says he was tortured by the Emirati security agency during the 2019 Asian Cup, said: “I will not stop in my fight for justice for women. torture and abuse that I suffered under the surveillance of Al-Raisi. I hope Interpol doesn’t allow him to abuse more people. ”
The Emirati general carried out a skillful campaign: traveling the world to meet with legislators and government officials and boasted of the academic degrees he earned in Britain and the United States, in addition to his years of police experience.
In an opinion piece published in the government daily Abu Dhabi, al-Raisi said that wants to “modernize and transform” Interpol based on the “UAE’s role as a leader in technology-driven policing and as a bridge builder in the international community.”
Al-Raisi replaces South Korea’s Kim Jong Yan, who served as vice president and was quickly elected to serve the remainder of Meng’s term. His presidency should have ended in 2020, but it was extended for another year due to the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the cancellation of the assembly.
Although the general secretary is the one who runs the organization on a day-to-day basis, the president have a role as job supervisor and counselor. The president heads the general assemblies and the meetings of the Executive Committee.
Currently, the general secretary is the German Juergen Stock.
Around 470 police chiefs, ministers and other representatives from more than 160 nations participate in the three-day meeting. Each of the attending countries has one vote.
On Tuesday, delegates approved the membership of the Federated States of Micronesia, bringing Interpol’s membership to 195.