New Interpol boss: indifferent to torture?

Status: 25.11.2021 8:07 p.m.

The new Interpol boss is from the United Arab Emirates and he has a highly dubious reputation. Major General Ahmed Naser al-Raisi is accused of not investigating allegations of torture in his own country.

By Björn Blaschke, ARD-Studio Cairo

A good three years ago, the Briton Matthew Hedges visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Hedges was doing research for a doctoral thesis. When he was about to leave, he was arrested on charges of espionage.

Bjorn Blaschke
ARD-Studio Kairo

Hedges made a confession, apparently under duress, and was sentenced to life imprisonment. A little over six months later, the President of the UAE pardoned him. During a press conference in Istanbul on Wednesday, Hedges reported, visibly moved, what he had to endure at the time:

I was threatened with physical abuse and torture. They threatened to transfer me to a military base abroad. I was there (detained) for seven months, my first meeting with the consulate was after almost two months.

In other reports, Hedges had stated that he had to stand with ankle shackles on for hours while in detention.

Did the new Interpol boss deal with allegations of torture?

Major General Ahmed Naser al Raisi did not investigate allegations of torture like these, even though he has held one of the most important positions in the UAE’s police and security apparatus since 2015, Hiba Zayadin from the human rights organization Human Rights Watch told the ARD:

Major General Ahmed Nasser al Raisi is the Inspector General of the Ministry of Interior of the United Arab Emirates. And as such, he oversees the investigation of complaints against the UAE police and security forces, which are the main tools of the UAE’s suppression. ”

As Inspector General, al Raisi’s job is to investigate allegations of torture. If he did that, it had no consequences, says Zayadin:

There is no evidence that the UAE authorities have investigated credible allegations of torture and ill-treatment by the UAE security forces in any of the many cases that Human Rights Watch has documented over the years.

What is the UAE’s goal?

Prior to the election of al Raisi, critics said that if its candidate were elected with the help of Interpol, it would be easier for the UAE to prosecute exiled dissidents and political opponents. That is why the UAE have generously supported Interpol financially over the past few years.

Perhaps the UAE just wants to present itself as important to the world once more. Either way: Although the UAE is banking on size and cosmopolitanism – as is currently the case in Dubai with the International World Exhibition – there is an oppressive regime behind the beautiful facade, according to Zayadin:

Regardless of how the UAE tries to portray itself, it is arguably one of the most authoritarian of all the Gulf States. The UAE authorities have consistently disregarded freedom of expression since 2011. The government arbitrarily arrests and forcibly disappears people who criticize the authorities. UAE residents who have raised human rights issues are at serious risk of arbitrary detention, detention and torture.

Because of his alleged involvement in the torture policy of the UAE, complaints were filed against the new Interpol boss al Raisi in five countries – including France, where the headquarters of Interpol is located.

Al Raisi new Interpol President

Uwe Lueb, ARD Istanbul, November 25, 2021 10:54 am

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