Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi elected INTERPOL President, sparking controversy.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) General, Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi, was elected INTERPOL’s presidents after three rounds of voting by member states and INTERPOL’ general assembly in Istanbul. In this capacity he will serve part-time and unpaid for a four-year term. He will succeed current president, Kim Jong Yang, who has held the role since 2018.

Human rights groups and others condemned the appointment based on General Raisi’s prior accusations of complicity in torture by failing to investigate credible complaints of torture against UAE security forces. Numerous political prisoners and detainees were allegedly imprisoned and abused during Raisi’s tenure, including Emirati dissident Ahmed Mansoor, who has been imprisoned in the UAE since 2017. A lawsuit filed by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights earlier this year accuses Raisi of “acts of inhumanity and torture.” There is also British citizen Matthew Hedges, who was imprisoned in the UAE for seven months and sentenced to life imprisonment after abuse and an allegedly forced confession, and Ali Issa Ahmad, another Briton who was arrested in the UAE in 2019 after attending an Asian Cup football match. Hedges and Ahmad are both bringing legal cases against Raisi.

General Raisi rejects these accusations.

Sandra Grossman was quoted in Middle East Eye regarding Raisi’s appointment:

Sandra Grossman, a solicitor who has testified in the US Senate about the abuse of Interpol red notices by states as a means of transnational repression, said the election of Raisi would send "absolutely the wrong message" and gave little hope for reforming the organisation.

"Interpol is a valuable and critical organisation for fighting transnational crime, but due to some deficiencies within its own system, it is also subject to misuse and abuse by autocratic regimes," she told MEE.

"There are numerous examples of countries like Turkey, Russia, China, among others, who utilise the significant power of the red notice to hunt for political opponents outside of their borders."

She noted that Secretary General Jurgen Stock had attempted in recent days to emphasise that Raisi would largely have a symbolic role as president and would still primarily remain in his job in the UAE.

"I think the secretary general’s comments significantly downplay the power of the role of the president and the symbolic significance of electing someone like Raisi, who has been accused of torture by what I understand to be several reputable human rights organisations and individuals," she said."