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UK parliament to probe reports UAE 'torture' chief could become head of Interpol

Inquiry will hear that the global police organisation is open to manipulation by 'rogue' member states including Russia, China and the UAE
UAE security chief Nasser Ahmed al-Raisi, left, pictured in 2018 (Wikicommons)

British MPs will be told this week that Russia is a “criminal state” which is “abusing” the powers of Interpol, amid fears that an Emirati security chief accused of torture will become the organisation’s new head, a British newspaper has reported.

UAE police chief accused of torture 'frontrunner for top Interpol job'
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The global police organisation is facing a parliamentary inquiry over concerns that it is open to manipulation by "rogue" member states, including Russia, China and the United Arab Emirates, the Daily Telegraph said on Saturday.

The UK parliament's foreign affairs committee will hear from witnesses, including Bill Browder, a British financier and fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Browder has been subject to eight Interpol arrest notices by Russia on charges over the "poisoning" of a Kremlin whistleblower - all of which have been refused.

Interpol should “suspend access of serial abusers like Russia to its databases”, he will reportedly tell the committee on Tuesday.

“Britain should work with its allies - the US, Canada, Australia, the European Union and others - on withholding funds if Interpol refuses to reform,” he will add, according to the newspaper.

Emirati candidate 

Interpol, headquartered in the French city of Lyon, has come under increased scrutiny after its president, Meng Hongwei, was disappeared by Chinese authorities and in 2018 sentenced to 13 years in prison on bribery charges.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Major General Nasser Ahmed al-Raisi, a UAE security head accused of presiding over the torture of British student Matthew Hedges, was attempting to become the new head of Interpol.

Raisi has been accused of serious human rights abuses in the Gulf state, including against British citizens, and Interpol has been warned it could lose credibility if he is elected president, according to the Daily Telegraph, which was given leaked access to the security chief's campaign literature.

Raisi has never responded to the claims, according to the newspaper.

'Deafening' international silence

UK academic Matthew Hedges slams UAE general's bid to head Interpol
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Following the reports of Raisi's candidature, Hedges, who was previously jailed in the UAE on espionage charges, appealed to members of Interpol not to consider Raisi for the role of president due to Abu Dhabi's poor human rights record.

"If Saudi Arabia, Russia, China or Iran tried to run for the Interpol presidency, they would be rightly condemned," Hedges told the Daily Express.

"Just look at the UAE's record on freedom of speech, judicial standards, the independence of the judiciary and the legislature.

"Yet the Emirates have been able to craft quite a positive face in order to get people in these key positions - and the silence from the international community is deafening."

This week's parliamentary inquiry will focus on the role of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in exerting the UK's influence within multilateral organisations and examine how it might drive reform in order to reduce their vulnerability to abuse and misuse.