A torturer at the head of Interpol. What looks like a hoax could come true on Thursday, November 25, in Istanbul. Unless surprised, the very controversial General Ahmed Nasser Al Raisi, inspector general of the Ministry of the Interior of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and member of the organization’s executive committee since 2018, is expected to become its new president.
Initially scheduled for December 2020, and postponed due to Covid-19, the 89e the general assembly of the international police organization is being held from 23 to 25 November on the banks of the Bosphorus to elect the members of its executive committee and its president.
Forty years of career
In front of him, two known competitors: the current vice-president of Interpol, the Czech Sarka Havrankova, and the Nigerian Adamu A. Mohammed. Each of the 194 member countries has one vote and the president is elected by simple majority after a secret ballot vote.
“If I am elected, it would be the honor of a lifetime to work to ensure that each member has a strong voice”, trumpeted the UAE candidate on Twitter. “As President, I wish to contribute to the modernization of Interpol, drawing on my forty years of experience in transforming the UAE police force. “
In forty years of career, General Al Raisi has climbed all the levels of the security hierarchy of his country to become the key man. With a repressive record denounced by human rights organizations. “Under his leadership, his services were responsible for the repeated and systematic arbitrary detentions and acts of torture inflicted on prisoners of conscience and human rights defenders, with complete impunity”, say the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR), the French League of Human Rights and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), in an open letter to member states of the Interpol General Assembly.
Several complaints of torture have been filed against the senior officer in France and England, on the basis of universal jurisdiction. “Placing at the head of Interpol a soldier prosecuted for acts of torture would not only be contrary to the values of an organization whose statutes refer to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but a real misappropriation, says lawyer Patrick Baudoin, Honorary President of FIDH. An institution tasked with tracking down criminals could be used to persecute political opponents or human rights defenders who have sought refuge abroad. “
The chronic underfunding of the organization exposes it to manipulation by States and private partners. In support of their strategy of influence, the Emirates have not skimped on means: Abu Dhabi became in 2016 the second largest contributor to the Interpol budget, behind the United States, with a voluntary contribution of 50 million euros over five years through a foundation based in Switzerland. “There is a strong risk that a financial influence will be exerted on the representatives of the States which will vote”, adds Patrick Baudoin.
Silence from the French authorities
All the representations made by NGOs and parliamentarians to the French authorities against the UAE general’s candidacy remained unanswered. Paris does not wish to stand in the way of the representative of a country considered to be a “strategic partner” and a good client of the French arms industry. Emmanuel Macron made the Emirati leader, Mohammed Ben Zayed (“MBZ”), his privileged interlocutor in the Gulf. A real jackpot, an agreement on the purchase of 60 Rafale at the F4 standard could be signed, during a visit by the president scheduled for December 2 in Abu Dhabi.
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“An abusive use of red notices is to be feared under his presidency”, underlines Hubert Julien-Laferrière, deputy of the Rhône, at the origin of a letter of 35 parliamentarians to Emmanuel Macron against the candidacy of Al Raisi. If elected, ironically, the general runs the risk of being arrested and prosecuted when he goes to Lyon, the organization’s headquarters, or to any other country applying universal jurisdiction.
The “red notices”
Interpol, whose full name is “International Criminal Police Organization”, is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1923. Based in Lyon, it has 194 member countries.
At the request of one of its members or of an international organization, Interpol issues “red notices” informing police forces around the world that an individual is wanted by the judicial authorities of their country or another. These notices can lead to his arrest and extradition.
The majority of red notices are issued by authoritarian or disrespectful countries of human rights such as Russia, China, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Iran, India, Belarus, Venezuela or Tajikistan. In 2020, 11,094 notices were issued and 66,370 are valid.