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Rights groups warn Interpol against appointing torture-linked UAE security chief as president

Major-General Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi is regarded as a favourite for the top job [Getty]

Date of publication: 29 October, 2020

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A coalition of 19 NGOs wrote to the international police body's secretary-general to express their 'deep concern' over Raisi's candidacy.

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UAE, Interpol.

A coalition of 19 human rights groups on Thursday warned that appointing the United Arab Emirate's security chief - who has been linked to torture cases - as Interpol president would "damage" the international police body's reputation.

The NGOs, including Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), expressed their "deep concerns" about Major-General Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi's bid for the top post in a letter to Interpol secretary-general Jurgen Stock.

Raisi is thought to be the front-runner to take the post, which will be decided in an election at Interpol's general assembly in Abu Dhabi on 7 and 8 December. 

"We believe that the appointment of Mr al-Raisi would both undermine the mission and reputation of Interpol and severely impact the ability of the organisation to carry out its mission effectively and in good faith," the letter said.

"Given the UAE's poor human rights record, including the systematic use of torture and ill treatment in state security facilities, Mr al-Raisi's appointment as president would damage Interpol's reputation and stand in great contradiction to the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the organisation's mission."

Read more: Naming Dubai police chief to top Interpol job would only enable UAE impunity

Raisi's nomination has prompted concerns from victims of abuses in the UAE, with some accusing Al-Raisi of being ultimately responsible for serious rights violations, including torture.

Among those who have accused Al-Raisi of human rights abuses are two British citizens who were held in the UAE.

Academic Matthew Hedges was held in solitary confinement in the UAE for six months in 2018 after being accused of spying. During his detention, Hedges says he was psychologically tortured and forced to confess to his "crimes".

"To say I'm disappointed that he is even being considered would be an understatement," he said. "[Al-Raisi] was ultimately responsible for my torture and detention... The UAE must not be allowed to have this presidency. It would undermine everything Interpol is supposed to stand for."

Fellow Briton Ali Ahmad was imprisoned for weeks in the UAE in 2018 after he wore a Qatar jersey to a football match. Ahmad says he was beaten, stabbed and deprived of sleep, food and water by Emirati authorities.

Both Ahmad and Hedges have expressed their opposition to Raisi's Interpol bid.

The UAE has also been accused of massive human rights abuses by campaigners.

Among those disappeared by the UAE is human rights champion Ahmed Mansoor and sentenced to ten years in prison for social media posts.

"Especially in cases related to state security, individuals were at serious risk of arbitrary and incommunicado detention, torture, and ill-treatment, prolonged solitary confinement, and denial of access to legal assistance," Human Rights Watch have said.

"Forced confessions were used as evidence in trial proceedings, and prisoners complained of dismal conditions and inadequate medical care."


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