United Arab Emirates General Naser Ahmed al Raisi was elected president of Interpol during the general assembly in Istanbul. The election immediately sparked several controversies because Raisi is denounced for torture in 5 countries, including Turkey and France.
Who is Al Raisi
Emirati general Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi will serve for four years in Lyon, France. Al-Raisi is currently Inspector General of the UAE Ministry of Interior and has a forty-year career behind him. He was elected by the representatives of the 190 countries that are part of Interpol. The new appointment makes him the first Middle Eastern candidate to be elected president since the founding of the international organization to fight crime in the 1920s. Against him, at the last moment, Sarka Haurankova, from the Czech Republic, vice-president of Interpol for Europe, stood up.
The timid attempts to thwart al-Raisi’s candidacy did not help. In June, 35 French parliamentarians wrote to Macron to ask him to oppose this promotion. In November, German lawmakers expressed “deep concern” over the possibility of al-Raisi becoming president of Interpol. “He cannot hide from the very serious accusations against him, we appeal to Interpol to fulfill the fundamental duty to investigate these shocking crimes”, commented the international lawyer Rodney Dixon who recently filed a torture complaint against him in Istanbul.
The allegations of torture
However, several doubts have been raised in recent weeks about the integrity of the figure of al-Raisi. Criminal charges have been filed against him in five countries, including France, where Interpol is based, and Turkey, where the elections were held. Raisi is in fact accused of torture and arbitrary detention by two men, Matthew Hedges, a British doctoral student imprisoned in the United Arab Emirates in 2018 on suspicion of espionage, and Ali Issa Ahmad, a soccer fan arrested in 2019 for wearing a Qatari shirt. . The two remained in jail for seven months and two weeks respectively and say they suffered physical violence. Hedges and Ahmad accuse al-Raisi of having played an important role in these violations. Raisi was also accused by the human rights organization Gulf Center for Human Rights of being responsible for the torture suffered by the well-known activist Ahmed Mansoor, arrested in 2017 and sentenced to ten years in prison.
“I am very concerned about what Raisi’s election will mean for people like me who have been abused in the Emirates and have been forced to make confessions under torture,” said British Matthew Hedges. “I honestly think the outcome of this election was decided in advance,” said Ali Ahmad Issa, the other British citizen who denounced torture.