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EU lawmakers say appointment of UAE police chief would 'undermine' Interpol's reputation

Three members of European Parliament voice concern over the candidacy of Ahmed Naser al-Raisi, who faces multiple allegations of 'torture'
Ahmed Naser al-Raisi is the top law enforcement officer in the UAE.
Ahmed Naser al-Raisi is the top law enforcement officer in the UAE (Wikimedia)

Several prominent members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have warned that the appointment of an Emirati official to the position of president of Interpol would "undermine the mission and reputation" of the global police organisation.

In a letter sent to the European Commission president, three MEPs urged European Union (EU) states to elect an Interpol chief that comes "from a country with an established criminal justice system and longstanding respect for human rights".

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They further called on members of Interpol "to examine allegations of human rights abuses" against UAE police chief Ahmed Naser al-Raisi, who is a frontrunner in the upcoming elections.

"We deeply believe that the election of General Al Raisi would undermine the mission and reputation of Interpol and severely affect the ability of the organisation to carry out its mission effectively," they said.

"It is incumbent on European institutions to ensure its economic contributions are used in a way that strengthens human rights, rather than weakens them."

The letter was sent by the chair of the subcommittee on human rights Maria Arena, and two of the European Parliament's vice presidents, Heidi Hautala and Fabio Massimo Castaldo.

The European lawmakers said the election of Raisi would go against "the values for which the European Union stands, particularly to human rights and accountability for serious violations, including torture".

'Presiding over torture'

Based in the French city of Lyon, Interpol is a relatively small information-sharing bureau with only 1,000 staff and had a budget of €142m ($162m) in 2019. It consists of 194 member countries.

Raisi, who is currently on the organisation's executive committee, has said that if he were to be elected president he would draw on "the UAE's role as a leader in tech-driven policing, and a bridge-builder in the international community".

"I will transform Interpol into a modern, technology-driven organisation, geared to tackling today and tomorrow's challenges head-on," he wrote last month.

Raisi is currently in charge of overseeing the UAE's security and police forces as general inspector of the Ministry of Interior.

Serving as the UAE police chief since 2015, he has been accused of serious human rights abuses, including "presiding over the torture of two British citizens", according to the Telegraph.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights also filed the complaint against him earlier this year, claiming Raisi was responsible for "torture and barbaric acts" against UAE dissident Ahmed Mansoor.

In September, the European Parliament passed a resolution that called on members of Interpol to investigate the allegations of abuse Raisi is facing.