While the position is largely ceremonial, Al-Raisi’s election has raised serious concerns among legal experts and activists globally. Al-Raisi himself has faced allegations of “torture and barbarism”, specifically in connection to the wrongful detentions of British academic Matthew Hedges and Emirati democracy advocate Ahmed Mansour.
His candidacy was opposed within the organisation, in the European Parliament, and among US politicians. Along with China, Russia, Turkey, Egypt and Qatar, the UAE has been identified as a habitual abuser of the Interpol database and Red Notice system. Many view Al-Raisi’s election as a leap backwards for the organisation, likely influenced by the UAE’s significant contribution to Interpol’s funding; and the decision has further deteriorated the organisation’s reputation and legitimacy.
International extradition expert, Radha Stirling, founder and CEO of Due Process International, IPEX Reform and Detained in Dubai, has been the leading voice for Interpol reform; today Stirling issued a stark warning that Al-Raisi’s election sends a chilling signal to the world that Interpol has become an overt collaborator with the worst abusers of their own mechanisms: "Interpol’s election of General Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi today has dealt a severe setback to those of us who have been pushing for reforms and greater transparency in the international policing organisation, and represents an unfortunate and near-fatal blow to Interpol’s credibility.
Not only is General Al-Raisi himself accused of complicity in torture and grave human rights violations, but the United Arab Emirates has established itself as one of the most prolific abusers of the Interpol system.
The UAE has used Interpol Red Notices essentially as an instrument for de facto expansion of their jurisdiction to persecute foreigners, most often over business disputes and fabricated charges which would be rejected by almost any court in the developed world. Over the past decade, Interpol has increasingly empowered authoritarian regimes around the globe to pursue political dissidents, journalists, and academics, as well as business people and investors; the election of Al-Raisi signals that the organisation has no intention of correcting this trajectory, but rather of accelerating in the direction of further abuse. It is outrageous that an institution originally founded to uphold justice and due process has chosen as its president a man implicated in serious crimes from a country that is renowned for exploiting Interpol’s role as a means to extort and intimidate innocent people, and a country which itself has consistently proven to have a corrupt legal system.”