Ahmed Al-Raisi, an Emirati general accused of supervising torture, has been elected president of Interpol, the international police organization said Thursday.
Major General Ahmed Naser Al-Raisi, Inspector General at the UAE’s Interior Ministry, was already a member of Interpol’s executive committee.
Al-Raisi has been linked to the torture of prominent political prisoners in their home, including Ahmed Mansoor, an Emirati dissident, and Michael Hedges, a British scholar charged with espionage in 2018 and sentenced to life imprisonment. Hedges was later pardoned, but Mansoor remains in jail.
Criminal complaints have been filed against him in five countries, including France, where Interpol is headquartered, and Turkey, where the election was held.
Critics fear it will use Interpol’s global reach to apprehend dissidents in exile and even political opponents at home, instead of hunting down drug dealers, human traffickers, crime suspects. war and suspected extremists.
Al-Raisi’s candidacy sparked protests in Europe. French lawmakers have asked President Emmanuel Macron directly to intervene. German lawmakers said his appointment was in contradiction with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Al-Raisi says he wants to use his four-year term to modernize Interpol
The UAE has been accused of trying to buy influence within Interpol in order to grease the wheels of al-Raisi’s candidacy, according to a recent report by Sir David Calvert-Smith, the former UK Director of Public Prosecutions.
In 2017, the United Arab Emirates donated 50 million euros to the Interpol Safer World Foundation, a non-profit organization with offices in Geneva that Calvert-Smith describes as “a channel through which channel money from the UAE government to Interpol ”.
The presidential election has been closely watched since the very first Chinese president of the body, Meng Hongwei, disappeared in the middle of his term during a return trip to China in 2018.
It later emerged that he had been detained on charges of corruption and other alleged crimes. Interpol then announced that Meng had stepped down from the presidency.
A vice president, Kim Jong Yan of South Korea, was quickly elected as a replacement to serve the remainder of Meng’s term.
Kim’s presidency was due to end in 2020, but his term was extended for a year after the coronavirus pandemic prompted Interpol to suppress its annual meeting last year.