Ahmed Naser Al-Raisi
Ahmed Naser Al-Raisi (also romanised as Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi) is an Emirati general. He currently serves as the president of Interpol and the inspector general of the United Arab Emirate's interior ministry.
Early career and education
According to his website, Al-Raisi joined the Abu Dhabi police force in 1980 as a member of the "burglar alarm branch". He rose through the ranks to become General Director of Central Operations in 2005. He received a BSc in computer science from Otterbein University in 1986, an diploma in police management from the University of Cambridge in 2004, an MBA from Coventry University in 2010 and a doctorate from London Metropolitan University in 2013.
He co-authored Social & security impact of the internet, which was published by the Emirates Center For Strategic Studies and Research in 2009.
He was appointed General Inspector of the interior ministry in 2015. He played a key role in the arrest of Matthew Hedges, a British academic accused of espionage by the UAE regime, in 2018. Human rights organisations say that Raisi oversees a "notoriously abusive" state security apparatus, which has misused the red notice system of Interpol.
Interpol presidential candidacy
He was the official candidate of the United Arab Emirates to succeed Kim Jong Yang as President of Interpol in 2022. Accused of presiding over torture, his candidacy was strongly condemned by human rights groups. A coalition of 19 human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and the Gulf Center for Human Rights, wrote an open letter to Interpol advising against his appointment. A report by David Calvert-Smith, a former chief prosecutor of the United Kingdom, said that Al-Raisi is unsuited to the post. Matthew Hedges asked members of Interpol not to consider Al-Raisi for the position.
In June 2021, a criminal complaint was filed in Paris by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights against Al-Raisi. The complaint accuses him of being responsible for the torture of Ahmed Mansoor, a prominent UAE dissident arrested in 2017.
Unusual for a normally opaque process, the UAE was promoting Al-Raisi by arranging his trips to the Interpol member countries to gain support, while he was viewed as an “international pariah”.
Al-Raisi was sued in multiple countries. Rodney Dixon, the lawyer of Matthew Hedges and Ali Ahmad, raised a complaint with the Sweden police to arrest al-Raisi upon his arrival to the country, as part of his campaign tour before the vote. Hedges and Ahmad raised a similar request with the Norwegian police authorities, asking them for help and to use the opportunity of al-Raisi’s visit to arrest him, if an investigation is opened.
In November 2021, three members of the German parliament released a joint statement which said that electing Al-Raisi would endanger the reputation of Interpol and that the nomination violates the second article of Interpol's basic law. Thirty-five French legislators asked Emmanuel Macron to oppose Al-Raisi's candidacy in a letter. The United Arab Emirates rejected the German MP's concerns and said that they were proud of being "one of the safest countries in the world".
The election took place in Istanbul on 25 November with Al-Raisi running against Šárka Havránková, a vice president of Interpol. Al-Raisi won after three rounds of voting and was elected for a four-year term with about 69% of votes. He is the first candidate from the Middle East to be elected president.
The United Arab Emirates are the second-largest contributor to Interpol's budget, which has led to allegations that the UAE bought the outcome of the election. Al-Raisi's part-time role will be mostly ceremonial, a fact Interpol emphasised repeatedly. However, Al-Raisi seems keen to change Interpol's policies. His campaign promise to increase the use of modern technology at Interpol was seen by some as a reference to the electronic surveillance tools used by authoritarian regimes. Writing for the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Ulrich Schmid called Al-Raisi's election a reason for authoritarian countries to celebrate, as it would further erode the standing of human rights in international organisations. The Guardian's Ruth Michaelson characterised the election as a "big soft-power win" for the UAE.
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