International police authority – allegations of torture – controversial general becomes Interpol boss.
Controversial decision: Although there have been torture allegations against him, General Ahmed al-Raisi has been elected as the new Interpol boss. His country is contributing large sums to the agency’s funding.
Despite allegations of torture, the international police organization Interpol has elected a major general from the United Arab Emirates as its new president. The Inspector General in the Ministry of the Interior there, Ahmed al-Raisi, succeeds Meng Hongwei from China. At a general assembly of the 195 Interpol member states in Istanbul on Thursday, he got the required two-thirds majority. His term of office is four years. Criticism came from human rights activists.
From their point of view, Al-Raisi stands for an aggressive security apparatus in which people who are critical of the government are arbitrarily arrested or even tortured. Lawsuits related to allegations of torture have been brought against him in at least five countries. The human rights group Mena wrote on Twitter: “The international police organization is now represented by an autocratic regime that regards criticism as terrorism and eavesdropping, arresting and torturing those who think differently.”
The British political scientist Matthew Hedges, who traveled to the Emirates to conduct research in 2018, is suing one case. On the way back, security forces temporarily arrested him at the airport on charges of being a British spy. “I was tortured. I was forced to take drugs and sedatives.”
Al-Raisi studied in the UK and USA. At Interpol, he was previously responsible for Asia. As the police organization announced, he got 68.9 percent of the vote in a third ballot. In the first two rounds, neither he nor his only opponent, the Czech Sarka Havrankova, had a two-thirds majority. Havrankova is the vice president of the organization’s executive committee.
According to Interpol, the president’s main role is to chair the general assembly and three meetings of the executive committee per year. The president remains full-time in his home country. Interpol’s Secretary General has been Jürgen Stock, a former Vice President of the Federal Criminal Police Office, since 2014.
The Emirates had already started making large-scale donations to Interpol in 2015 and raised the question of whether the country wanted to buy influence with them. The organization, based in Lyon, lives on the contributions of the 195 member states. The share of the Emirates accounts for 0.425 percent of the budget – around 243,000 euros in 2019.
Since the sum is not enough, Interpol regularly calls for contributions. In 2016, for example, the Emirates committed to pay 50 million euros over five years, i.e. the annual contribution of around 100 countries. This makes the country the second largest contributor after the USA.