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New Interpol chief facing torture complaint

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Interpol’s new chief, United Arab Emirates national Maj. Gen. Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi, has had a torture claim filed against him in France as he makes his first official visit to the headquarters of the organization in Lyon.

Attorney William Bourdon filed the claim on Tuesday on behalf of the Emirati national Ahmed Mansour, who is serving a 10-year sentence in the UAE for “insulting the status and prestige of the UAE” and its leaders on social media, The Associated Press reported.

Bourdon told the newswire he filed the case in a Paris court under the principle of universal jurisdiction.

Al-Raisi met with Interpol’s Secretary General Jürgen Stock on Tuesday and took to Twitter to share that they “discussed a great number of important topics and projects that centre around security and the future of the organization.”

He was elected in November for a four-year term, despite existing torture complaints against him and criticism over his government’s record of human rights abuses. 

Interpol did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

Al-Raisi already faces criminal complaints in five countries, the AP reported last year, including accusations of torturing two Britons — a doctoral student accused of spying in 2018 and a soccer fan who claims he was abused when visiting the UAE to watch a tournament in 2019. 

Human rights groups had previously blasted the Emirati general’s candidacy to lead Interpol. During the Interpol presidential elections, a coalition of 19 organizations has also written a letter condemning the UAE’s “poor human rights record” and warning 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.”

A number of human rights organizations around the world have expressed concern over the UAE’s handling of human rights in the Gulf nation. 

The Hill has reached out to the UAE Embassy in Washington, D.C., for comment.

Human Rights Watch, for example, notes on its website that “many activists and dissidents, some of whom have completed their sentences, remain detained simply for exercising their rights to free expression and association.”

“Prisons across the UAE hold detainees in dismal and unhygienic conditions, where overcrowding and lack of adequate medical care are widespread,” the HRW website says. “The UAE continues to block representatives of international human rights organizations and UN experts from conducting in-country research and visiting prisons and detention facilities.”

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