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Interpol elects Emirati general accused of torture as new president

Ahmed Naser al-Raisi chosen despite concerns of human rights organisations and members of European Parliament
Complaints of torture were filed against Raisi, pictured in Istanbul on 23 November 2021, in recent months in France and Turkey (AFP)

An Emirati general accused of torture was elected president of Interpol on Thursday, the global police agency said, despite the concerns of human rights organisations and members of the European Parliament.

"Mr Ahmed Nasser AL RAISI of the United Arab Emirates has been elected to the post of President (4-yr term)," Interpol said on Twitter. 

Raisi, head of the United Arab Emirates' security forces, will take on a largely ceremonial and voluntary role, with Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock handling day-to-day management of the organisation. 

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Stock, a German police officer, was given a second five-year term in 2019.

Complaints of torture have been filed against Raisi in recent months in France and Turkey, which is hosting Interpol's general assembly in Istanbul this week.

The appointment follows generous funding by the UAE for the Lyon, France-based body and accusations Abu Dhabi has abused Interpol's system of so-called "red notices" for wanted suspects to persecute political dissidents.

Three European Parliament members wrote a letter dated 11 November to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to warn of the impact the general's appointment would have on Interpol.

"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 wrote.

In October 2020, 19 NGOs, including Human Rights Watch, expressed concern about the possible choice of Raisi, whom they described as being "part of a security apparatus that continues to systematically target peaceful critics".