The candidacy of a United Arab Emirates official for president of Interpol could jeopardise the credibility of the global police organisation’s commitment to human rights, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) have said.
Ahmed al-Raisi has been the inspector general at the UAE Interior Ministry since April 2015 and is a member of Interpol’s executive committee.
“General al-Raisi’s selection as Interpol president would indicate that Interpol’s member states have no concern whatsoever about the record of the UAE in persecuting peaceful critics,” GCHR executive director Khalid Ibrahim said in a joint statement with HRW on Wednesday.
“His candidacy is yet another bid by the UAE to purchase international respectability and whitewash its deplorable human rights record,” he added.
Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at HRW, said choosing a top official of an “abusive state institution as its president, Interpol risks jeopardising its credibility as a rights-respecting international law enforcement agency”.
Al-Raisi was accused last year of being responsible for the torture of a British academic and a football fan.
Matthew Hedges, a British postgraduate student, claimed he was fed a cocktail of drugs during his imprisonment in Dubai on spying charges in 2018.
He spent nearly seven months in a detention centre – mostly in solitary confinement – in the UAE after being arrested during a research trip on suspicion of being a spy for a British intelligence agency.
Al-Raisi is in charge of organising and managing the security and police forces in the UAE, and “was ultimately responsible for my torture and detention”, Hedges said.
On Wednesday, a statement by Carter-Ruck Solicitors said Hedges was claiming damages against four Emirati officials – including al-Raisi – for assault, false imprisonment and the intentional infliction of psychiatric injury which allegedly occurred during the course of his detention in Abu Dhabi.
In March 2020, UN human rights experts urged the UAE to reform detention conditions in the Gulf nation which it said amounted to “torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.