European human rights organizations revealed the extend of how the UAE has been working on penetrating the International Police Organization (Interpol), aiming to protect its officials accused of war crimes and prosecuting opponents.
The European Microscope for Middle East Issues said that UAE’s increasing penetration of the Interpol and controlling high-ranking positions in it raises more human rights concerns.
The European Microscope, an institution concerned with monitoring the interactions of Middle Eastern issues in Europe, stated that European and international human rights groups have increasingly expressed their serious follow-up to the growing influence of the UAE in Interpol for purposes that serve its agendas.
Human rights circles believe that the UAE’s plan is based on its influence in clamping down on its opponents, including human rights defenders, and protecting its senior officials from upcoming chases because of the crimes it committed against peoples in the coming years.
In this regard, the human rights groups warned of the dangers of the UAE establishing the Interpol Foundation in Geneva and using it as a front to pay financial bribes to increase its influence in the international organization and enhance the chances of officials taking high positions in it.
According to the Interpol Foundation’s website, since May 2016, the Foundation has supported seven key Interpol initiatives by donating 50 million euros over five years as part of the UAE government’s contribution agreement.
The European Microscope monitored the increasing penetration of the UAE into high-level positions in Interpol, led by Major General Ahmed Al Raisi. He served as the high-ranking inspector general in the UAE Ministry of Interior to head Interpol.
In addition to this is a list of several UAE officials who hold several positions at Interpol, including Mubarak Saeed Al Khail, Director of the Gulf Office at INTERPOL, Abdul Aziz Muhammad Obaidullah, Director of a Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa at INTERPOL, and Khaled Al Tai, Director of Labor Relations at INTERPOL, who is specialized in technical support.
The list of UAE officials’ penetration into Interpol includes Hamid Al-Amimi, head of the organization’s anti-corruption department; Nasser Al-Thalay, an officer working in the Middle East Regional Office; and Saeed Al-Kaabi, a candidate for the Interpol Archives Monitoring Committee.
As part of its plans to head Interpol, the UAE launched a program months ago to market its internationally pariah candidate, Major General Al Raisi, by preparing his visits to the Interpol member states to mobilize support for his election, including providing logistical and financial support to those countries.
The plan also includes mobilizing public relations institutions and pressure groups funded by the UAE to support Al-Raisi’s fortunes despite the widespread international opposition he faces.
A few months ago, the Gulf Center for Human Rights filed a lawsuit against Al-Raisi for torturing prisoners of conscience, especially human rights activist Ahmed Mansour, in the prisons of the UAE regime.
The case was submitted by French human rights lawyer William Bourdon, on behalf of the Gulf Center for Human Rights, to the Office of the Public Prosecutor in Paris.
The lawsuit against Al-Raisi relates to the case of the illegal detention of a member of the Board of Directors of the Gulf Center for Human Rights, Ahmed Mansoor, and other prisoners of conscience in the UAE.
The complaint is based on the concept of universal jurisdiction and seeks to bring the principal to justice while he is in France in pursuit of the Interpol presidency this year.
On May 5, 2021, the Gulf Center for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch issued a joint appeal, saying that Al-Raisi’s candidacy for the President of Interpol could jeopardize compliance with the International Criminal Police Commission human rights obligations.
Interpol will appoint its new president at its general assembly meeting in Lyon from 23-25 November 2021.
Al-Raisi has served as a senior inspector general in the UAE Ministry of Interior since April 2015, which put him responsible, among other things, for investigating complaints against the police and security forces. The UAE state security apparatus has a long record of multiple violations.
Al-Raisi is a member of the Interpol Executive Committee, the administrative body that oversees the implementation of General Assembly resolutions and the work of the General Secretariat.
In June 2021, 35 French parliamentarians announced a position against Al-Raisi’s assumption of the presidency of Interpol in light of his black human rights record and his involvement in torturing prisoners of conscience and opponents in the Emirates.
The deputies, who are members of Parliament and the Senate from the majority and the opposition, sent a letter to President Emmanuel Macron asking Paris to oppose the candidacy of Raissi for the post.
The parliamentarians said that Al-Raisi was “on the way” to be elected at the head of the international institution in Lyon, eastern France. At the same time, his “heavy record should keep him from such responsibility.”
In their letter, the deputies added that Al-Raisi was “directly responsible for the police forces in his country, which operate with almost complete impunity,” and accused him of playing “a central role in the arbitrary detention and violations suffered by many human rights activists.”