11/25/2021, 12.58
TURKEY - UAE
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Emirates: Torture charges shadow new Interpol chief Ahmed Naser al-Raisi

The senior official was elected today during the general assembly in Istanbul. In the past he was Asia representative of the organization, after a long career in the institutions of the Emirates. Activists and NGOs accuse him of having endorsed violence and abuse in prisons. In the past he had called for a modern reform of Interpol. 

 

Istanbul (AsiaNews) - Ahmed Naser al-Raisi, a senior official of the Interior Ministry of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is the new president of Interpol. The appointment took place today at the conclusion of the annual meeting of the general assembly, which was held in Istanbul

Al-Raisi has spent decades among the institutions of the Gulf country; in 2018 he was appointed representative for Asia of the international police organization. A path, however, marked by accusations of torture and repeated human rights violations by NGOs and activists. 

The mandate of al-Raisi at the head of the organization based in Lyon, France, will last four years. The senior officer previously served as inspector general of the Interior Ministry and was elected by representatives of 140 nations that are part of Interpol, beating out competition from its main rival, Czech Colonel Šárka Havránková.

He is the first candidate from the Middle East to assume the presidency since Interpol was founded in the 1920s. This appointment has been welcomed with satisfaction by the Abu Dhabi leadership, as confirmed by Anwar Gargash, advisor to the Eau President Khalīfa bin Zāyed Āl Nahyān, according to whom it is the result of the "achievements" reached by the emirates "in the field of law enforcement". 

In a reflection published in recent months by The National, al-Raisi had stressed the need to "modernize and transform" the international police organization, so that it can be capable of countering "increasingly sophisticated" criminal activities. He had added that "Interpol is at a crossroads. Criminals have adopted the latest technologies and, in some respects, are outpacing even law enforcement." To deal with these emerging forms of crime, according to al-Raisi, police cooperation and capabilities "must be increasingly effective." 

While the Emirates [a haven of tolerance traffickers and evaders] celebrate his election as a success for the country, human rights activists and NGOs including the Gulf Centre for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch (HRW) raise accusations of abuses and violations. Al-Raisi is alleged to have promoted the practice of torture inside prisons in the Emirates and allowed, if not even committed, "acts of barbarism" against blogger and poet Ahmed Mansur sentenced in 2018 to 10 years in prison, which he is serving in solitary confinement.

In addition to these, there is also a complaint filed in the United Kingdom concerning British doctoral student Matthew Hedges, who was also arrested in 2018 at Dubai airport and sentenced to life in prison as a spy. Finally, there is a lawsuit recently filed by French lawyers in Turkey, which was really only meant to try to block the appointment. In all these events al-Raisi would have had an important supervisory role, encouraging torture and violence in prison. His appointment, activist groups conclude, would be a way to "endorse" these practices.

Founded in 1923, Interpol is the most important police organization in the world. It is headquartered in Lyon, with seven regional offices in Argentina, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, El Salvador, Kenya, Thailand and Zimbabwe and 195 national offices, one for each member state. It enables the police forces of individual countries to share information and data on crimes, offering technical and strategic support. al-Raisi is scheduled to take office in March 2022. 

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