The world’s police force risks being led by a man implicated in “torture,” warns a report.
The next president of Interpol should not come from the UAE, a country known for its “repressive justice system,” says a new report.
The report has raised serious questions regarding the UAE’s influence over Interpol as the country lobbies to have a senior security chief become head of the international police force.
“The UAE has a history of abusing Interpol’s systems for their own political or financial benefit,” warns the paper written by Sir David Calvert-Smith, a retired British high court judge and former Director of Public Prosecutions.
The report, Undue Influence: The UAE and Interpol, warns that when the absolute monarchy made the single largest-ever donation of almost $60 million back in 2017, it is unlikely the country was thinking about strengthening the global police force.
Decision-makers within Interpol “should not allow despots and torturers to control or improperly influence an organisation which plays an essential role in upholding the rule of law and human rights throughout the world,” argues the report.
Widespread reports have indicated that Major General Al-Raisi from the UAE is a frontrunner to take over the Interpol presidency.
Credibly accounts have emerged that Al-Raisi presided over the torture of prisoners in the custody of the country’s police force.
The latest report by Calvert-Smith found “coherent evidence that the UAE is seeking to improperly influence Interpol through funding and other mechanisms.” It concludes the country could cement its influence over the body if Al-Raisi is appointed as the new president of Interpol.
In a scathing rebuke to recent attempts by the UAE to improve its human rights record, Calvert-Smith called it “superficial” and amounted to “little more than window dressing.”
It calls Al-Raisi “unsuitable” to lead the organisation. A man Calvert-Smith says has been “directly implicated in the torture and detention” of high profile victims such as the British academic Matthew Hedges.
Hedges was held in a UAE prison for more than six months in 2018 and experienced torture and solitary confinement after being accused of being an MI6 agent, a claim he denied. He was later released by a pardon from the country’s monarch.
“In all circumstances, his election would send a message to the world that Interpol has little or no respect for respect human rights and will turn a blind eye to torture and repression,” says the report about Al-Raisi.
Elections for the next Interpol president was meant to happen in December, however, it was postponed due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Elections are expected to happen this year.
The report, however, has also called the election process to Interpol as potentially lacking any accountability due to its secretive approach to choosing candidates.
There is no official list of candidates for the top job, which could invite open scrutiny and an opportunity for outside observers to study the merits of candidacy. This practice says the report should stop in a bid to bolster the credibility of Interpol.