Six UK lawmakers slam UAE Interpol president candidate

UK lawmakers slam UAE Interpol chief candidate over state's 'grave human rights abuses'
3 min read
23 November, 2021
Ahmed Naser Al-Raisi is accused of being 'part of a state apparatus that systematically carries out grave human rights abuses' by six British lawmakers.
The next Interpol president will be chosen in the coming days [Isa Terli/Anadolu Agency/Getty]

The UAE's candidate for chief of the Interpol global policing body was slammed by six British lawmakers on Monday, the same week as the election to replace President Kim Jong Yang is to occur in Istanbul.

Ahmed Naser Al-Raisi is the UAE interior ministry inspector general, a position he has held for six years, and which puts him in charge of the Gulf state's police and security services.

On Monday, five British MPs and one Baroness - including the co-chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Human Rights - sent Minister Boris Johnson a letter detailing their objections to Al-Raisi's bid.

"As a UAE Government official, Major General al-Raisi is part of a state apparatus that systematically carries out grave human rights abuses, including the detention of human rights defenders and peaceful critics and the use of torture and ill-treatment in security facilities," the letter read.

They urged the British government "to oppose his candidacy".

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The letters' signatories hail from across party lines - from Labour MP Ben Bradshaw to Crossbench peer Baroness Stern and the UK's longest-standing MP, Conservative Peter Bottomley.

Stern and independent MP Margaret Ferrier lead the APPG on Human Rights.

The parliamentarians' letter said: "[Al-Raisi's] appointment would stand in stark contradiction to the spirit of Interpol's mission to uphold the law and therefore severely damage the organisation's reputation."

Multiple lawsuits have been brought against the major general.

One case raised by the parliamentarians was that of UK scholar Matthew Hedges. He alleges he faced torture and other violations while held by the Emiratis for half a year in 2018.

Hedges and another British national detained in the UAE recently submitted a complaint in Turkey, where the Interpol election is being held.

Hedges said: "As head of the country's interior ministry, Al-Raisi is directly responsible for abuses that routinely take place in Emirati detention facilities, including my own ordeal.

"His election would fly in the face of justice, and open the door to further impunity," he added, according to NGO ALQST for Human Rights.

The lawmakers who wrote to Johnson concluded by urging the UK "support[s] a candidate from another country where fundamental rights and freedoms are enshrined and respected".

"In the longer term, the UK should also support a more open, transparent and timely process for nominations to all elected Interpol positions, so candidates for these positions can be properly vetted and considered."

The New Arab has contacted the UAE's interior ministry and London embassy for comment.