Electric shocks, beatings and days of detention without food or drink. These are just a few of the allegations against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) security services. And they are led by Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi, who is now the new face of Interpol.
194 countries collaborate within the international police organization. But critics say key positions at Interpol are favored by authoritarian regimes, which would abuse the organization’s international signaling systems to hunt down opponents.
“Dozens of activists in exile are terrified of Al-Raisi’s presidency,” Khalid Ibrahim of the human rights organization Gulf Center for Human Rights told Lebanon. “People who violate human rights should not be rewarded in this way.”
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Compared to other Gulf countries, the human rights situation in the UAE is one of the worst, says Ibrahim. “With a lot of lobbying and money, they try to whitewash their image. But behind the beautiful image, there are countless innocent prisoners,” Khalid explains. “In the UAE itself, there are no more activists. As a criminal, you are treated even better there ”.
Human rights organization Human Rights Watch also claims hundreds of Gulf state activists, academics and lawyers are in jail after unfair trials and vague indictments. The United Arab Emirates denies the allegations made against the Reuters news agency.
Take the story of British academic Matthew Hedges. He was held in the Gulf State for seven months on suspicion of espionage. He was physically assaulted and his family threatened, he told Reuters. According to him, this happened in a building for which Al-Raisi was responsible.
Ali Issa Ahmad also claims to have been tortured in the United Arab Emirates. This allegedly happened because he was wearing a t-shirt with the Qatari flag on it, when the two countries quarreled diplomatically.
Perhaps the most famous case is the conviction of Ahmed Mansoor. Because the activist allegedly disrupted public order via social media, he was sentenced to ten years in prison and a huge fine in 2017. The Gulf Center for Human Rights accuses the UAE of torture in Mansoor’s case.
Fear of extradition
There is often a commotion around the management of Interpol. Two years ago, Chinese President Meng Hongwei disappeared under suspicious circumstances. It later emerged that he had been arrested in his home country for alleged corruption, for which he has since been convicted.
The Chinese was replaced by South Korean Kim Jong Yang. China has again attacked the presidency. But candidate Hu Binchen also encountered resistance. Yesterday, the also controversial Al-Raisi took over. As president, Al-Raisi is not directly involved in the day-to-day management of Interpol.
Yet human rights activist Khalid Ibrahim is worried: “Today I got a call from an activist in Saudi Arabia who is now afraid of being extradited. In addition, an impressive number of new activists from the United Arab Emirates have recently appeared on international search lists ”.
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