UAE general accused of overseeing British citizens’ torture is elected head of Interpol

UAE general accused of overseeing British citizens torture could be


A general from the United Arab Emirates accused of the torture of British citizens has been elected as the new president of Interpol, the global law enforcement agency.

Major General Ahmed Naser al-Raisi, inspector general at the UAE’s interior ministry, was elected on Thursday for one four-year term during the group’s annual General Assembly in Istanbul.

His election comes despite being accused by human rights groups of involvement in torture, kidnappings and arbitrary detentions in the UAE.

General Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi (pictured), the UAE's head of security forces who has been accused of torture, has been elected to president of the global law enforcement agency

General Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi (pictured), the UAE’s head of security forces who has been accused of torture, has been elected to president of the global law enforcement agency

British academic Matthew Hedges, said he was detained and tortured between May and November 2018 in the UAE, after he was arrested on false charges of espionage during a study trip.

He has sued four UAE officials – including Al-Raisi – for £350,000 in damages after being held in ankle cuffs, denied sleep and fed a cocktail of drugs.

The academic is backed by fellow Briton, Ali Issa Ahmad, 28, a football fan imprisoned in the UAE in 2019 after wearing a shirt in the colours of Qatar, UAE’s rival neighbouring country, to a match.

Mr Ahmad, a security guard, claimed he was electrocuted, burned and stabbed.

In total, Al-Raisi is accused of torture and has criminal complaints against him in five countries, including in France, where Interpol has its headquarters, and in Turkey, where the election is taking place.

The decision follows generous funding by the United Arab Emirates for the Lyon, France-based body and accusations Abu Dhabi has abused Interpol’s system of so-called ‘red notices’ for wanted suspects to persecute political dissidents.

Raisi was elected following three rounds of voting during which he received 68.9 percent of votes cast by member countries, Interpol said in a statement. 

He will take on a largely ceremonial and voluntary role for a four-year term, while Interpol Secretary General Juergen Stock handles day-to-day management of the organisation. Stock was given a second five-year term in 2019.

Raisi has run a slick campaign for the presidential post, travelling the world to meet politicians and government officials and boasting academic degrees from the UK and the US and years of experience of policing.

In a opinion piece for the government-run newspaper in Abu Dhabi, he said he wants to ‘modernise and transform’ Interpol, drawing on ‘the UAE’s role as a leader in tech-driven policing and a bridge builder in the international community’.

British academic Matthew Hedges, said he was detained and tortured between May and November 2018 in the UAE, after he was arrested on false charges of espionage during a study trip. He is suing Al-Raisi and three other officials for £350,000 in damages (pictured with his wife Daniela Tejada)

British academic Matthew Hedges, said he was detained and tortured between May and November 2018 in the UAE, after he was arrested on false charges of espionage during a study trip. He is suing Al-Raisi and three other officials for £350,000 in damages (pictured with his wife Daniela Tejada)

The vote for president was being closely watched since the first-ever Chinese president of the body, Meng Hongwei, vanished midway through his four-year term on a return trip to China in 2018.

It subsequently emerged that he had been detained, accused of bribery and other alleged crimes.

The international law enforcement body also said Valdecy Urquiza, of Brazil, was elected to the post of vice president for the Americas, while Garba Baba Umar, of Nigeria, was elected vice president for Africa. 

It was suggested that Al-Raisi’s endorsement ‘would send a signal to other authoritarian governments’ that using Interpol to pursue critics abroad ‘is okay’.

It is feared the practice of giving out so-called ‘red notices’ for wanted suspects will be abused to persecute political dissidents rather than capture war criminals or terrorist fugitives under his leadership.

Only the Czech Republic’s Sarka Havrankova – a veteran officer overseeing the country’s international cooperation in police matters – stood against Al-Raisi.

‘The election of General Al-Raisi would undermine the mission and reputation of Interpol and severely affect the ability of the organisation to carry out its mission effectively,’ three European Parliament members wrote in a letter dated November 11 to European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen.                     

While the position of president is symbolic, endorsement of the general by the group’s 195 members ‘would send a signal to other authoritarian governments’ that using Interpol to pursue critics abroad ‘is okay’, said Edward Lemon, an assistant professor specialising in transnational repression at Texas A&M University. 

In October 2020, 19 NGOs, including Human Rights Watch, expressed concern about the possible choice of Raisi, who they described as ‘part of a security apparatus that continues to systematically target peaceful critics’.

Complaints of ‘torture’ were filed against the general in recent months in France and Turkey, which is hosting the assembly in Istanbul.

Mr Hedges, one of the complainants, said he was detained and tortured between May and November 2018 in the United Arab Emirates, after he was arrested on false charges of espionage during a study trip. 

General Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi, who is also the inspector general at the UAE interior ministry, was seen attending the Interpol general assembly in Turkey where he is standing for president

General Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi, who is also the inspector general at the UAE interior ministry, was seen attending the Interpol general assembly in Turkey where he is standing for president

In papers filed at the High Court in London back in May, Mr Hedges claimed damages against Al-Raisi and three other officials for assault, false imprisonment and psychiatric injury.   

Mr Hedges, originally from Exeter, was sentenced to life imprisonment but was pardoned by the nation’s president just days later.

He has previously described how he was questioned for up to 15 hours a day and forced to wear ankle cuffs during his ordeal. 

The Durham University PhD student has also said he faced sleepless nights, PTSD and was reliant on a cocktail of drugs that were fed to him in jail. 

According to court documents, Mr Hedges is expecting to recover between £200,000 and £350,000 in damages.

The UAE has previously said Hedges had not been subjected to any physical or psychological mistreatment during his detention.

Inspector General in the Ministry of the Interior, Major General Ahmed Naser Ahmed Alrais Al-Raisi

The commander in chief of the emirate's police force, Major General Mohammed Khalfan Al Rumaithi

Mr Hedges is claiming damages against four UAE officials, including Major General Ahmed Naser Ahmed Alrais Al-Raisi (left) and the commander in chief of the emirate’s police force, Major General Mohammed Khalfan Al Rumaithi (right)

In another complaint, lawyers for the Gulf Centre for Human Rights accuse the Emirati general of ‘acts of torture and barbarism’ committed against government critic Ahmed Mansoor.

Mansoor has been detained since 2017 in a four-square-metre (43-square-foot) cell ‘without a mattress or protection against the cold’ and ‘without access to a doctor, hygiene, water and sanitary facilities’, the lawyers said.

These complaints have not resulted in any formal proceedings against Al-Raisi.

Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock, who handles day-to-day management of the organisation, told journalists he was ‘aware of these accusations, which are currently an issue between the parties involved’.

‘It will be on Thursday the role of the member countries of Interpol to decide’ on whether Raisi should get the role, said Stock, who was given a second five-year term in 2019. 

Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock (pictured on the first day of the 89th Interpol General Assembly in Istanbul on November 23, 2021) , who handles day-to-day management of the organisation, told journalists he was 'aware of these accusations, which are currently an issue between the parties involved'

Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock (pictured on the first day of the 89th Interpol General Assembly in Istanbul on November 23, 2021) , who handles day-to-day management of the organisation, told journalists he was ‘aware of these accusations, which are currently an issue between the parties involved’

British citizen Matthew Hedges talks during a news conference along with compatriot Ali Issa Ahmad, left, in Istanbul, Turkey, Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. Lawyers for the two British men, who claim were tortured while being detained in UAE in 2018 and 2019, have filed a criminal complaint against Maj. Gen. Ahmed Naser al-Raisi

British citizen Matthew Hedges talks during a news conference along with compatriot Ali Issa Ahmad, left, in Istanbul, Turkey, Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. Lawyers for the two British men, who claim were tortured while being detained in UAE in 2018 and 2019, have filed a criminal complaint against Maj. Gen. Ahmed Naser al-Raisi

BRITONS SUE NASSER AL-RAISI AFTER ‘ABUSES’ IN UAE JAIL 

British student Matthew Hedges was held in solitary confinement in the UAE on accusations of spying while researching for his PhD.

Mr Hedges, 34, says he was fed a cocktail of drugs during his six months in jail in 2018. In his first month, he slept on the floor and had no access to a shower.

Matthew Hedges, 34, says he was fed drugs during his six months in jail in 2018

Matthew Hedges, 34, says he was fed drugs during his six months in jail in 2018

He also did not have any medical care despite suffering from panic attacks.

He was released following international protests. 

Mr Hedges has claimed that Ahmed Naser Al Raisi ‘was ultimately responsible’ for his ‘torture and detention’ and is opposed to him taking over Interpol.

The academic is backed by fellow Briton, Ali Issa Ahmad, 28, a football fan imprisoned in the UAE in 2019 after wearing a shirt in the colours of Qatar, UAE’s rival neighbouring country, to a match.

Mr Ahmad, a security guard, claimed he was electrocuted, burned and stabbed.

Both of them are seeking damages against Al Raisi for their ordeal along with other leading figures from the country. They issued claims at the High Court in May.

South Korean Kim Jong-yang has been president of the organisation since the 2018 arrest of his predecessor Meng Hongwei in China, where he had served as a vice minister of public security. 

Anwar Gargash, a former UAE minister of state for foreign affairs who now advises the country’s president, described the general’s election as ‘a testament to our country’s achievements and efficiency in the fields of law enforcement and security’.

Gargash dismissed the accusations against Al-Raisi as an ‘organised and intense smear and defamation campaign’ which the election had now ‘crushed on the rock of truth’.

‘The questionable reputation of Raisi… whether deserved or not, is an important factor for the organisation,’ Mathieu Deflem, sociology professor at the University of South Carolina and author of books on Interpol, said before the election.

A report by a former British director of public prosecutions, Sir David Calvert-Smith, that was published in March concluded that the UAE hijacked the system of red notices – international wanted notices – to put pressure on opponents. 

If elected, Al-Raisi would ‘likely work with like-minded governments to stymie reform efforts pushing for greater transparency in Interpol’, Texas A&M’s Lemon said.

Lemon said the UAE donated $54 million (48 million euros) to Interpol in 2017 – an amount almost equivalent to the required contributions of all the organisation’s 195 member countries. This amounted to $68 million (60 million euros) in 2020.

The UAE gave or had pledged to Interpol around 10 million euros in 2019, approximately seven percent of its total annual budget.

‘Such funding reduces other members’ ability to influence the organisation,’ Lemon said.

The Emirates hosted the general assembly in 2018 and wanted to host it again in 2020, he said.

That meeting was postponed due to Covid, and went to Turkey instead – though the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan also faces accusations of mass detentions, abuse of trial process and repression.

Czech candidate Havrankova said she believed the ‘very serious allegations’ might prevent her rival’s election. ‘I’m just trying to bring the alternative,’ she said earlier this month. 



Source link

Share:
Avatar of Bourbiza Mohamed

Written by Bourbiza Mohamed

A technology enthusiast and a passionate writer in the field of information technology, cyber security, and blockchain

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings

Troops for Armys new elite force will have to show

Troops for Army’s new elite force will have to show ’emotional intelligence’

Chinese photographer apologises over ‘insulting images as Dior pulls picture

Chinese photographer apologises over ‘insulting’ images as Dior pulls picture