Human rights groups sound alarm over Interpol election


Two candidates in the running to become the next president of Interpol have been met with widespread opposition from human rights activists.

The concerns center on Major General Ahmed Naser Al Raisi, of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Hu Binchen, of China, two of three candidates currently in the running for the position.

Two British men who were formerly imprisoned in the UAE have accused Al Raisi of torture and have filed legal complaints against him in the UK, France, Sweden and Norway, according to The Guardian. Al Raisi is currently the inspector general at the UAE’s interior ministry.

“He is absolutely responsible for torture. The message his candidacy sends is that not only can you do this and get away with it, but be rewarded,” Matthew Hedges, one of the formerly imprisoned men, told the newspaper.

In an editorial for the National, a UAE-based newspaper, Al Raisi touted the UAE’s use of technology to fight crime and said he wants to “modernize and transform” Interpol.

A coalition of 19 organizations has also written a letter condemning the UAE’s “poor human rights record, including the systematic use of torture and ill-treatment in state security facilities.”

The letter warns that Al Raisi’s appointment would “damage Interpol’s reputation and stand in great contradiction to the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the organization’s mission.”

They further accused Al Raisi of being “part of a security apparatus that continues to systematically target peaceful critics, rendering civic space virtually non-existent.”

The UAE Embassy in Washington, D.C., did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

Hu, the Chinese candidate, is currently the deputy director of the international cooperation department at his country’s Public Security Ministry.

Among those who have expressed opposition to Hu’s candidacy are Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Fla.) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), who, together with 50 politicians from 20 countries called on their governments to oppose Hu’s election, NBC reported.

The letter says that having Hu at the helm of Interpol could put thousands of Chinese political dissidents at risk.

It added that Hu’s election would signal “a green light” to China’s government “to continue their misuse of Interpol and would place the tens of thousands of Hong Kong, Uyghur, Tibetan, Taiwanese and Chinese dissidents living abroad at even graver risk,” NBC said.

China has defended Hu’s bid to be Interpol’s next president.

“China’s proposal of suitable candidates for the Executive Committee of Interpol is a specific measure to actively support the organization’s goals of combating terrorism, transnational crime and ‘making the world safer’ as a member of the organization, and to make positive contributions to international police cooperation,” a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry told NBC News. 

Responding to criticism by human right group’s that the election of either Al Raisi or Hu would give authoritarian regimes more power, Interpol said “a red notice is only published if it complies with the organization’s Constitution, under which it ‘is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.’”

“As a global law enforcement organization, Interpol provides a neutral platform for police to work directly with their counterparts, even between countries which do not have diplomatic relations,” the spokesperson said.

“Every Red Notice request from every member country is checked for compliance with Interpol’s Constitution and rules by a specialized task force prior to their publication by the General Secretariat. All Wanted Persons Diffusions are also reviewed by this task force,” the spokesperson added.

Interpol held a general assembly meeting in Istanbul on Nov. 23 to discuss security threats and elect a new presidency and executive committee.

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