UAE candidate cannot become Interpol president due to country's human rights abuses, says UK report

UAE candidate cannot become Interpol president due to country's human rights abuses, says UK report
A new report urges the international community to prevent the appointment of a UAE General to Interpol president.
3 min read
08 April, 2021
The UAE general is facing much opposition [Getty]

A senior UAE general’s apparent bid for Interpol presidency cannot happen due to the country's history of human rights abuses, a new report by the UK’s former director of public prosecutions says.

The appointment is secret and no candidates have officially been named, however, the UAE's Major General Dr Ahmed Naser Al-Raisi is likely to be one of the candidates, as well as Nigeria’s Commissioner Olushola Subair.

The report is called Undue Influence: The UAE and Interpol published by Sir David Calvert Smith.

It argues that the UAE's draft is unsuitable for a host of reasons, including "abuse of Red Notices, undue influence and no respect for human rights".

"This report has found strong evidence that the UAE has misused the Red Notice system for both minor offences and most importantly for political gain against those seen as a threat to the regime," it writes.

The report found "coherent evidence that the UAE is seeking to improperly influence Interpol through funding", and cited a large donation made by Abu Dhabi to Interpol in 2017.

"Not only would an Emirati president of Interpol serve to validate and endorse the [United Arab Emirates'] record on human rights and criminal justice but, in addition, Maj Gen [Ahmed Naser] Al-Raisi is unsuitable for the role," Sir Smith wrote.

"He sits at the very top of the Emirati criminal justice system. He has overseen an increased crackdown on dissent, continued torture, and abuses in its criminal justice system."

Raisi joined the Abu Dhabi police force in 1980 and rose through the ranks, eventually becoming the General Director of Central Operations of the Abu Dhabi Police in 2005.

In 2015 he became the General Inspector of the Ministry of Interior in the UAE.

The international policing body Interpol was due to hold a general assembly in the UAE last year, where 194 states would elect the next president but it was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It is planned to go ahead this year, though a date has yet to be announced.

Intense opposition

British academic Matthew Hedges, who was jailed in the UAE on spying charges spoke out late last year against Raisi’s potential appointment.

"If Saudi Arabia, Russia, China or Iran tried to run for the Interpol presidency they would be rightly condemned. Just look at the UAE's record on freedom of speech, judicial standards, the independence of the judiciary and the legislature," Matthew Hedges told The Daily Express.

"Yet the Emirates have been able to craft quite a positive face in order to get people in these key positions - and the silence from the international community is deafening."

Hedges has first-hand experience of the terrible conditions inside UAE jails, after being detained in 2018 during a doctoral research trip to the Gulf state.

During his detention, Hedges said he was kept in solitary confinement and subject to conditions that amount to torture.

"To say I'm disappointed that he is even being considered would be an understatement," he said.

"The UAE must not be allowed to have this presidency. It would undermine everything Interpol is supposed to stand for."

A coalition of 19 rights groups, including Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) echoed his sentiments and penned an open letter to Interpol.

"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.

The presidency post is an unpaid position, however, it is highly influential and presides over all important meetings.

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