Thursday, December 2, 2021

Interpol elects the President of the United Arab Emirates | AP News

ISTANBUL (AP) – Interpol on Thursday elected a controversial United Arab Emirates official as its new president during the annual General Assembly of the international law enforcement agency in Istanbul.

Major General Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi, inspector general of the United Arab Emirates Ministry of the Interior and a member of the Interpol executive committee, was elected for one four-year term, the global police body said. He was accused by human rights groups of involvement in torture and arbitrary detention in the UAE.

Interpol reported that al-Raisi was elected after three rounds of voting and received 68.9% of the vote in the final round.

“I am honored to be elected the next President of Interpol,” the global police agency quoted al-Raisi as saying.

“Interpol is an irreplaceable organization built on the basis of partnerships. It is this spirit of cooperation, united by the mission, that I will continue to develop as we work to make the world safer for people and communities, ”he said.

The vote for the president was closely watched as the body’s first Chinese president, Meng Hongwei, disappeared in the middle of his four-year term on a return trip to China in 2018. It was subsequently revealed that he was detained on charges of bribery and other alleged crimes.

International law enforcement also reported that Valdesi Urquisa from Brazil was elected Vice President for the Americas and Garba Baba Umar from Nigeria was elected Vice President for Africa.

Al-Raisi is accused of torture and has criminal cases against him in five countries, including France, where Interpol’s headquarters are located, and Turkey, where elections were held.

His election drew angry responses from two British complaints.

“This is a sad day for international justice and the global police force,” said Matthew Hedges, a British doctoral student who was imprisoned in the UAE for almost seven months in 2018 on espionage charges.

“I really fear what this means for people like me who have been mistreated by the UAE and forced to make false confessions under torture,” he said in an email statement. Hedges says he was tortured and subjected to months of solitary confinement without access to a lawyer.

Ali Issa Ahmad, a football fan who says he was tortured by UAE security officials during the 2019 Asian Cup football tournament, said: “I will not stop my fight for justice for the torture and ill-treatment I was subjected to under the supervision of Al Raisi … I hope Interpol will not allow him to offend other people. ”

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Their lawyer, Rodney Dixon, said his clients “will redouble their efforts to seek justice for their torture and prosecute General al-Raisi in national courts wherever he goes in his new position.”

Hedges was pardoned by UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, but Emirati officials continue to insist that Hedges spied for British intelligence MI6 without offering conclusive evidence to support his claims. He, his family and British diplomats have repeatedly denied the allegations.

Al-Raisi campaigned brilliantly for the presidency, traveling the world to meet with lawmakers and government officials, and boasted academic degrees from the UK and the US and years of police experience.

He said in a LinkedIn post that the UAE is prioritizing “protecting human rights at home and abroad.”

In a writing for a government newspaper in Abu Dhabi, al-Raisi said he wants to “modernize and transform” Interpol, building on “the UAE’s role as a leader in technology-based policing and building bridges in the international community. … “

Al-Raisi replaces Kim Jong Yan of South Korea, vice president, who was quickly elected as a replacement to serve the remainder of Meng’s term. Kim’s presidency was scheduled to end in 2020, but his term was extended by a year after the coronavirus pandemic prompted Interpol to cancel its annual meeting last year.

While the Secretary General of Interpol runs Interpol on a day-to-day basis, the President plays a role in overseeing the work of the police body and guiding its overall leadership. The President chairs the general meetings of Interpol and the meetings of its Executive Committee.

The post of General Secretary is currently held by Jürgen Stock from Germany.

The three-day meeting was attended by about 470 police chiefs, ministers and other representatives from more than 160 countries. Each participating country has one vote.

On Tuesday, delegates voted to accept the Federated States of Micronesia, bringing Interpol’s membership to 195.

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This was reported by Susan Fraser from Ankara.

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