INTERPOL elects a new president for the United Arab Emirates
Istanbul — Interpol on Thursday elected a controversial official from the United Arab Emirates as its new president during the annual general assembly of the international law enforcement body, which was held in Istanbul.
The International Police Authority announced that Major General Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi, Inspector General of the Ministry of Interior in the United Arab Emirates and a member of the Interpol Executive Committee, has been elected for one term of four years. Human rights groups accused him of involvement in torture and arbitrary detention in the UAE.
Another controversial candidate is Hu Binchen, an official from China’s Ministry of Public Security, who was elected to join Interpol’s Executive Committee as a delegate from Asia. He was backed by the Chinese government, which is suspected of using the world’s police force to hunt down exiled dissidents and hide its own citizens.
The agency, based in Lyon, France, acts as an intermediary for the national police services that seek to track suspects beyond its borders. Raissi’s election comes as the world body has come under fire for using the “red notice” system to go after exiled opponents or political enemies rather than criminals. But the INTERPOL Charter prohibits the use of police notices for political reasons.
Interpol said the president was elected after three rounds of voting and received 68.9% of the vote in the last round.
“It is a great honor to be elected as the next president of Interpol,” the president was quoted by the International Police Agency as saying.
“Interpol is an indispensable organization built on the strength of its partnerships. It is this collaborative spirit, united in a mission, that I will continue to foster as we work to make the world safer for people and societies.”
The vote for president has been closely watched since China’s first-ever president, Meng Hongwei, disappeared midway through his four-year term on a trip back to China in 2018. It later emerged that he had been arrested and charged with bribery. and other alleged crimes.
The president is accused of torture and has criminal complaints against him in five countries, including in France where Interpol is based, and in Turkey where elections were held.
His election was greeted with joy in the Emirates, but prompted angry reactions from Britons who lodged complaints.
“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 espionage charges. Hedges says he was tortured and held for months in solitary confinement.
Ali Issa Ahmed, a football fan who said he was tortured by the UAE security apparatus during the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, said: “I will not stop my struggle for justice for the torture and abuses I was subjected to under Al Raisi. I hope that Interpol will not allow him to abuse treat anyone else.”
Their attorney, Rodney Dixon, said his clients would “redouble their efforts to seek justice for their torture and to prosecute the chief general in national courts wherever he travels in his new position.”
UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has pardoned Hedges, but Emirati officials still insist that Hedges was spying for MI6, without providing conclusive evidence to support their allegations. He, his family and British diplomats have repeatedly denied the accusations.
The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, which is regrouping lawmakers from around the world, has expressed concern about Hu Jintao’s election to Interpol’s executive committee, saying it is giving China “the green light to continue using Interpol as a vehicle for its repressive policies”. There was no immediate comment from Beijing.
In the United Arab Emirates, which is now hosting the World Expo 2020 in Dubai and to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, Emirati officials celebrated the selection of the principal. Interior Minister Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan said this showed “the world’s confidence in the UAE”.
Al Raisi praised the UAE leaders, saying: “With their guidance and expertise, the UAE has become one of the safest countries in the world.” He pledged to modernize Interpol’s technology, empower women, and tackle new challenges such as climate change and the coronavirus pandemic.
“I will also continue to reaffirm a fundamental tenet of our profession – that police abuse or abuse of any kind is abhorrent and intolerable,” he said in a statement on his website. “The credibility and standing of INTERPOL and global law enforcement are our most important assets.”
Syed Ahmed Alwadaei, an activist at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, warned that Raisi’s election “marks the beginning of a dangerous era, in which authoritarian regimes are now able to dictate international police.”
“No one is safe from the abuses of Interpol and authoritarian regimes,” Alwadaei said in a statement.
Al Raisi replaces Kim Jong Yan of South Korea, the vice president who was quickly elected as a replacement to serve the rest of the Ming State.
Although the INTERPOL General Secretary manages INTERPOL on a day-to-day basis, the President plays a role in overseeing the work of the police and directing its overall direction. The president chairs INTERPOL’s general meetings and its Executive Committee.
Currently, Jürgen Stock of Germany holds the position of General Secretary.
On the other hand, Interpol also said that Brazilian Valdesi Urquiza was elected as Vice President for the Americas, while Garba Baba Omar of Nigeria was elected as Vice President for Africa.
About 470 police chiefs, ministers and other representatives from more than 160 countries attended the three-day meeting. Each state present has one vote.
Susan Fraser reported from Ankara. John Gambrel contributed from Dubai.
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