Since his election on November 25, 2021, as President of Interpol, a sword of Damocles has hung over General Ahmed Naser Al-Raisi. This uncertainty has now been lifted: a new complaint was filed Tuesday, January 18 against the Emirati official for “torture” and “acts of barbarism” with the crimes against humanity unit of the National Anti-Terrorist Prosecutor’s Office (PNAT), in Paris.
Two previous complaints, filed in 2021, had been dismissed by the prosecution for lack of jurisdiction, in particular because at the time, Mr. Al-Raisi was neither present nor resident in France. This is no longer the case. As evidenced by a photo posted on January 17 on Twitter by Jürgen Stock, the secretary general of Interpol, Mr. Al-Raisi is present in France, where he took up his post at the Lyon headquarters of the international organization.
The complaint filed on Wednesday was by the NGO Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR), which defends the Emirati poet, engineer and human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor, detained since 2017 – he was sentenced the following year to ten years of imprisonment for “undermining state security” – in Abu Dhabi in “in medieval conditions constituting acts of torture”.
Until his controversial election as president of Interpol, General Al-Raisi served as inspector general of the interior ministry. He therefore knew (and played a direct role) of the circumstances of the arrest, the interrogations, the botched trial and the detention of Ahmed Mansoor, kept for months in solitary confinement in a 4 m² cell, deprived of telephone, visits and medication.
Unlike ‘crimes against humanity’, criminalization for ‘torture’ is not subject to the dual criminality requirement – i.e. it must be punishable in the country of the perpetrator also – but only requires the ” presence “ of the person concerned on French national soil.
“Technically, nothing stands in the way of his hearing”
The question that now arises is that of a possible immunity for General Al-Raisi. He cannot theoretically benefit from diplomatic immunity, because his function does not consist in representing a foreign State in France. He is also not considered a United Nations official, since he was elected.
The complaint written by Mr.and William Bourdon on behalf of the GCHR dismisses in advance any invocation of a “functional immunity” of Mr. Al-Raisi, despite the 2008 convention which governs relations between Interpol and France. The lawyer points out that the offense with which Mr. Al-Raisi is charged – the conditions of Mr. Mansoor’s detention – is still ongoing, that it was not committed within the framework of his duties at Interpol and that “immunities must give way to the greatest international crimes”of which torture is a part.
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