Wednesday November 24th 2021
UAE donations for moving?
Torture lawsuits are pending against Interpol candidates
The police organization Interpol elects a new president. There is a candidate from the United Arab Emirates against whom torture lawsuits are running. Many countries are warning against his appointment. In addition, due to high donations, a partial move to Abu Dhabi is not ruled out.
An Emirati major general reaches for one of the highest police posts in the world: Shortly before the election of a new president of the international police organization Interpol, there is sharp criticism of the promising candidate. Ahmed Al-Raisi, Inspector General at the Ministry of the Interior of the United Arab Emirates since 2015, stands, according to critics, for an aggressive security apparatus in which deviants are arbitrarily arrested or even tortured. According to them, his election to the top of the organization would send a dramatic signal.
The decision is to be made in Istanbul tomorrow, Thursday. Representatives of the 194 Interpol member states meet there for three days for their general assembly. The election is more of a secret: A list of all candidates will only be available during the course of the conference. And only a few – including Al-Raisi – make their candidacy public in advance. The major general had traveled to the USA, South America and Africa, among other places. According to reports, he even hired a UK public relations agency to promote his candidacy.
Lawsuits related to allegations of torture have been brought against Al-Raisi in at least five countries. The British political scientist Matthew Hedges, who traveled to the Emirates to conduct research in 2018, is suing one case. On the way back, security forces temporarily arrested him at the airport on charges of being a British spy. “I was tortured. I was forced to take drugs and sedatives.” He had not had access to a lawyer for a long time, was held in solitary confinement and was intimidated. “The system of abuse and torture there is infinite,” says Hedges.
In Turkey, lawyers have also filed charges on behalf of the Golf Center for Human Rights. There is “clear evidence” that he is responsible for the “torture policy” against political opponents in the UAE, the ad said. A lawsuit must also be brought because of the “systematic torture” of the well-known human rights activist Ahmed Mansur. He was arrested in 2017 and sentenced to ten years in prison for “insulting the status and prestige of the UAE”.
British lawyer Rodney Dixon said at an event organized by the Mena Rights Group, anyone who is so directly involved in torture cannot simply “walk through our countries”. You could certainly not step onto the world stage and become the “leading police person”. Al-Raisi must be arrested, demands Dixon.
Al-Raisi announced in September that it wanted to transform Interpol into a “modern, technology-driven organization”. The organization must also meet new challenges, for example in connection with artificial intelligence, quantum computing, cryptocurrencies and robotics, he wrote in the newspaper “The National”.
The Czech Sarka Havrankova, currently Vice-President of the Executive Committee, is also running as the new President. The post is scheduled to be filled every four years. There was already controversy and criticism in 2017 when the Chinese Meng Hongwei was elected president. Al-Raisi is now concerned that China’s government could use Interpol to search for dissidents and activists.
Moving to Abu Dhabi?
The Emirates had already started making large-scale donations to Interpol in 2015 and raised the question of whether the country wanted to buy influence with them. “Interpol will not be sold to the highest bidder,” read a letter from several MPs published in Le Monde in June. Dozens of parliamentarians in the German Bundestag and the European Parliament also issued clear warnings against Al-Raisi.
The organization, based in Lyon, lives on the contributions of the 194 member states. The share of the Emirates accounts for 0.425 percent of the budget – around 243,000 euros in 2019. Since the sum is not enough, Interpol regularly calls for contributions. In 2016, for example, the Emirates committed to pay 50 million euros over five years, i.e. the annual contribution of around 100 countries. This makes the country the second largest contributor after the USA.
The 50 million euros happen to correspond to the budget for the planned expansion of the Interpol headquarters in Lyon. According to the newspaper “Le Temps”, France’s Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin has asked the local authorities to reach into their wallets. Otherwise, the minister warned, headquarters could move to Abu Dhabi.