United Arab Emirates: GCHR continues efforts to bring to justice new INTERPOL President Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi

25.11.21

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) expresses its shock at the election of Major General Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi as President of the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) during its 89th General Assembly in Istanbul on 23-25​​ November 2021. He was elected despite the compelling evidence that confirms his participation in serious violations against detained human rights defenders and other prisoners of conscience, such as GCHR’s Board member Ahmed Mansoor, who has been imprisoned in solitary confinement in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since his arrest on 20 March 2017.

Al-Raisi joined the police in the UAE in 1980 and became the Inspector General of the Ministry of Interior in 2015, thus being responsible for overseeing the UAE’s police and security forces. They have been accused of many cases of torture of both Emirati and foreign citizens, as documented by the international community, including GCHR.

GCHR Executive Director Khalid Ibrahim said, "Someone like Major General Al-Raisi, who oversaw and participated in the torture of innocent citizens, should not head an international law enforcement agency." GCHR was among eight NGOs calling on the INTERPOL General Assembly not to elect Al-Raisi in a joint appeal last month.

In September 2021, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the case of Ahmed Mansoor, in which it called "on the members of Interpol’s General Assembly, and in particular the EU Member States, to duly examine the allegations of human rights abuses concerning General Major Nasser Ahmed Al-Raisi ahead of the election" and "notes the concerns expressed by civil society regarding his candidacy and the potential impact on the reputation of the institution." The wide-ranging resolution called for the release of Mansoor and other human rights defenders.

Three members of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights warned that Al-Raisi’s election as president of Interpol "would undermine the mission and reputation of Interpol and severely affect the ability of the organization to carry out its mission effectively."

Civil society actors and legal experts have raised concerns about the procedures for nominating and electing INTERPOL’s Executive Committee, leading to the adoption by the General Assembly of Resolution No. 2, amending the procedures "to set clear rules regarding ethics, accountability and integrity." However, this resolution came too late to stop the new President being elected.

In a report published on 07 April 2021, the former UK Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir David Calvert-Smith, concluded that there is strong evidence that the UAE has already misused the Red Notice system to target those seen as a political threat. The UAE passed a ministerial resolution for the inclusion of human rights defenders on its terror list, and therefore the risk of further abuse of the Red Notice system for political gain is high. 

"We will continue our legal pursuit with firmness and force in order for Major General Al-Raisi to face justice in France," said William Bourdon, a prominent French human rights lawyer, who acted on behalf of GCHR to lodge an official complaint with the Prosecutor's Office in Paris on 07 June 2021 against Al-Raisi in the case of the unlawful arrest and subsequent torture of Ahmed Mansoor. INTERPOL’s offices are in France.

On 16 November 2021, Ibrahim and Bourdon participated in a press conference organised by MP Hubert Julien-Laferrière at the French National Assembly in Paris against Al-Raisi’s potential election. On behalf of GCHR, Bourdon and his colleagues also worked with Turkish lawyers to submit a complaint against Al-Raisi in Turkey, where INTERPOL was meeting.

GCHR will continue to seek justice for Ahmed Mansoor and others human rights defenders who have suffered at the hands of the UAE’s police and security forces, under the leadership of Al-Raisi.

Consequently, GCHR has mandated the office of William Bourdon to file without delay a new complaint with the Paris Public Prosecutor's Office. The competence of the French courts will not be in doubt since Al-Raisi resides in Lyon, at least intermittently.

GCHR expects the Paris Public Prosecutor's Office to open an investigation and it will be up to Al-Raisi to try to invoke the functional immunity he now enjoys due to his status as President of Interpol.

However, this functional immunity must give way, as modern international law invites it to do, as the crime of torture is condemned by the international community and prosecuted by the International Criminal Court.

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