The international police agency Interpol has elected General Ahmed Naser al-Raisi — an Emirati general accused of overseeing torture — as its new president.
Interpol announced al-Raisi’s win on its Twitter account on Thursday, adding that he will have a four-year term, as is standard.
Al-Raisi is the head of the United Arab Emirates security forces.
Two British men who were detained in the UAE said he was ultimately responsible for torture they endured when they were held, The Guardian reported. One was detained in 2018 and the other in 2019.
The UAE has denied torturing the two men.
Nine human rights organisations, including Human Rights Watch and the European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights, wrote to Interpol in 2020 “expressing concern” about a possible al-Raisi presidency, citing the UAE’s poor human rights record.”
“Lawyers, journalists, political activists and human rights defenders in the UAE have been subjected to harsh reprisals, intimidation tactics, enforced disappearances, torture, and arbitrary detention as a result of peacefully expressing their opinions, including on trumped-up ‘terrorism’ charges,” they wrote.
Three European parliament members also warned earlier this month about having al-Raisi as president, The Guardian reported.
The role of president is largely ceremonial, with the secretary general leading most of its activities.
Former Interpol President Meng Hongwei, a Chinese national, disappeared in 2018 during a trip to China. At the time, his wife called the case “political persecution,” while Interpol said that organisation rules forbade an investigation into the disappearance.
China later said Meng had been detained, accused him of bribery, and sentenced him to 13-and-a-half years in prison.