In a letter to the Secretary General of INTERPOL

Human Rights Organizations: Al-Raisi's election sends chilling message

04:01
30 Nov 2021
Human Rights Organizations: Al-Raisi's election sends chilling message

Fifteen human rights organizations, including the Emirates Detainees Advocacy Center (EDAC), affirmed that the election of Emirati Major General Ahmed Nasser Al Raisi to head Interpol "sends a chilling message: that the international police organisation can be presided by the representative of an autocratic regime himself accused of torture."

In a joint letter to INTERPOL Secretary-General Jürgen Stock, the organizations expressed their deepest concern over Al-Raisi's election, noting that "it would damage Interpol's reputation and undermine its ability to carry out its mission effectively and in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."

The letter also referred to reports that the UAE authorities wanted to fund and house the executive leadership of Interpol and urged Stoke to reject any proposal from Abu Dhabi in this regard.

The letter warned against the continuation of relations between the Interpol organization and the, the INTERPOL Foundation for a Safer World, saying that "it was established for the sole purpose of channeling UAE governmental funds to INTERPOL."

The organizations told Stock, "We believe that as long as this relationship between the Foundation and INTERPOL continues, the organisation will suffer from interference by the Emirati authorities. We therefore urge you to resign from the Foundation's Board, and to reject funds coming from the Foundation"

It is noteworthy that in addition to EDAC, the following organizations signed the letter: L'Action des chrétiens pour l'abolition de la torture (ACAT-France), ALQST for Human Rights, Association of Victims of Torture in the UAE (AVT-UAE), Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, CIVICUS, Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), European Center for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR), Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor (Euro-Med Monitor), FairSquare, Freedom Forward, The Freedom Initiative, Front Line Defenders, MENA Rights Group, and SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties.

Here is the Letter:

Dear Mr Jürgen Stock,

We, the undersigned organisations, are writing to express our deepest concern over the election of Mr Ahmed Al Raisi, the General Inspector of the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Ministry of Interior, to the presidency of INTERPOL during the 89th General Assembly.

As you are already well aware, a high number of concerns have been raised over the past few months by civil society organisations, members of the EU, French, British and German parliaments, as well as by victims of torture in the UAE who have filed complaints against Mr Al Raisi in several countries.

We believe Mr Al Raisi’s election as president is going to severely damage INTERPOL’s reputation and undermine its ability to carry out its mission effectively and in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It also sends a chilling message: that the international police organisation can be presided by the representative of an autocratic regime, himself accused of torture.

Previous concerns have been raised over the lack of transparency and oversight in the election process. In this regard, we welcome the recent adoption by the General Assembly of Resolution No. 2 amending the procedures relating to the nomination and election of Executive Committee candidates, with the aim to ensure greater transparency and integrity. Though we are disappointed that such reforms were not adopted before the election of Mr Al Raisi, we believe this is a step in the right direction.

We also note with interest that the Executive Committee will adopt a code of conduct no later than the 90th General Assembly. However, we believe that the delineation of a code of conduct for the Executive Committee by the members themselves presents various conflicts of interests, which may severely threaten the legitimacy and impartiality of the said code of conduct.

In addition, we fear that the election of Mr Al Raisi represents a continuation of the UAE's efforts to maintain and gain greater influence over the functions and operations of INTERPOL:

In particular, we find the recent reports about a proposal of the Emirati authorities to the French government to fund and host the executive management of INTERPOL to be extremely worrying. We urge you, as Secretary General of INTERPOL, to reject any proposal made in that regard.

Furthermore, the INTERPOL Foundation for a Safer World, which was established for the sole purpose of channeling UAE governmental funds to INTERPOL, remains the second biggest voluntary contributor of the organisation as of 2020. As a member of the Foundation’s Board, you cannot ignore the allegations of “undue influence” that have been raised over the past few years. In addition to the torture accusations faced by Mr Al Raisi, the INTERPOL Foundation’s President and Board Member Mr Elias Murr has also recently been accused of torture in a complaint filed against him in Switzerland, as reported by the Lebanese Press Agency.

We believe that as long as this relationship between the Foundation and INTERPOL continues, the organisation will suffer from interference by the Emirati authorities. We therefore urge you to resign from the Foundation’s Board, and to reject funds coming from the Foundation.

In light of the above, we kindly request that you share the aforementioned concerns with INTERPOL’s Member States.

We thank you for your consideration and remain available should you wish to discuss this matter.

Sincerely,

Signatories:

L'Action des chrétiens pour l'abolition de la torture (ACAT-France)

ALQST for Human Rights

Association of Victims of Torture in the UAE (AVT-UAE)

Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain

CIVICUS

Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN)

Emirates Detainees Advocacy Center (EDAC)

European Center for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR)

Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor (Euro-Med Monitor)

FairSquare

Freedom Forward

The Freedom Initiative

Safeguard Defenders

MENA Rights Group

SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties