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INTERPOL elected as its new president today a United Arab Emirates (UAE) official whom human rights groups have accused of involvement in torture and arbitrary detentions.
Major General Ahmed Naser al-Raisi, inspector general at the UAE’s interior ministry and a member of Interpol’s executive committee, was elected for one four-year term during the international law enforcement body’s general assembly.
“It’s an honour to have been elected to serve as the next president of Interpol,” Mr Raisi said.
“Interpol is an indispensable organisation built on the strength of its partnerships. It is this collaborative spirit, united in mission, that I will continue to foster as we work to make a safer world for people and communities.”
Mr Raisi is accused of torture and has criminal complaints against him in five countries, including in France, where Interpol has its headquarters, and in Turkey, where the election was held.
Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, an activist with the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, warned Mr Raisi’s election “represents the beginning of a dangerous era, with authoritarian regimes now able to dictate international policing.
“No-one is safe from the abuse of Interpol and authoritarian regimes,” he said.
Two Britons who were detained in the UAE also complained.
“This is a sad day for international justice and global policing,” said Matthew Hedges, a British doctoral student who was imprisoned in the UAE for nearly seven months in 2018 on spying charges.
“I really fear about what this means for people like myself who have been abused at the hands of the UAE and forced to make false confessions under torture,” he said in an emailed statement.
Ali Issa Ahmad, a football fan who was tortured by the UAE security agency during the 2019 Asia Cup said: “I will not stop my fight for justice for the torture and abuse I suffered under Raisi’s watch. I hope that Interpol will not allow him to abuse any other people.”
Mr Raisi replaces Kim Jong Yan from South Korea, who was swiftly elected as a replacement for the body’s first-ever Chinese president, Meng Hongwei, after he vanished midway through his four-year term on a return trip to China in 2018.
It subsequently emerged that he had been detained and accused of bribery and other crimes.
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