A Chinese government official has been appointed to Interpol’s executive committee despite objections from a group of Australian parliamentarians and international human rights organizations.
- Six Australian MPs and senators signed a letter calling on Interpol members to block the Chinese official’s election
- Interpol’s new president has been accused by human rights groups of involvement in torture and arbitrary detention in the UAE
- The organization’s first ever Chinese president was detained in China and charged with bribery and other alleged crimes halfway through his 2018 term in office
The International Law Enforcement Agency also elected a controversial United Arab Emirates official as its new president during its annual general meeting held on Thursday in Turkey.
Hu Binchen, an official in China’s Ministry of Public Security, was elected to join Interpol’s executive committee as a delegate from Asia.
Hu was backed by the Chinese government, which has been accused of using the global police force to chase dissidents into exile and to disappear its citizens.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China was making the world a safer place by “recommending suitable candidates to run for executive committee membership”.
Earlier this week, six Australian MPs and senators signed a letter from the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) urging Interpol members to block Mr House’s elections over concerns that Beijing is using Interpol’s red message system to target exile activists .
Liberal Party Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, who was among the signatories, said her main concern was the possibility that China would use Interpol as a tool for its repressive policies and damage Interpol’s international status.
The agency in Lyon, France, acts as an intermediary for national police services seeking to hunt down suspects outside their borders.
Its charter is intended to prevent the use of police messages for political reasons.
Interpol’s new leader
Interpol’s future president is Major General Ahmed Naser al-Raisi, the inspector general of the Interior Ministry of the United Arab Emirates, who has been accused by human rights groups of being involved in torture and arbitrary detention in the UAE.
Interpol said that Major General al-Raisi on Thursday was elected to a four-year term after three rounds of voting and received 68.9 percent of the votes cast in the last round.
“Interpol is an indispensable organization built on the strength of its partnerships,” Interpol quoted him as saying.
The vote on the president has been closely monitored since the first Chinese president ever, Meng Hongwei, disappeared midway through his four-year term on a return trip to China in 2018.
It subsequently emerged that he had been detained and charged with bribery and other alleged crimes.
Major General al-Raisi is accused of torture and has criminal charges against him in five countries, including in France, where Interpol is headquartered, and in Turkey, where the election was held.
His choice received angry responses from the two Britons who filed the complaints.
“This is a sad day for international justice and global policing,” said Matthew Hedges, a British doctoral student who was imprisoned in the UAE for nearly seven months in 2018 on charges of espionage. Hedges says he was subjected to torture and months of isolation.
Ali Issa Ahmad, a football fan who says he was tortured by the UAE Security Agency during the 2019 Asia Cup football tournament, said: “I will not stop my fight for justice for the torture and abuse I have suffered under al-Raisi’s watch. “I hope Interpol will not allow him to abuse other people.”
Their lawyer, Rodney Dixon, said his clients would “double their efforts to seek justice for their torture and prosecute Major General al-Raisi in national courts wherever he travels in his new position”.
Hedges was pardoned by United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, but Emirati officials still insist Mr Hedges spied on Britain’s MI6 intelligence service, without providing conclusive evidence in support of their claims.
He, his family and British diplomats have repeatedly denied the allegations.
Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, an activist at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, warned Major General al-Raisi’s election “represents the beginning of a dangerous era in which authoritarian regimes are now able to dictate international policing”.
“No one is safe from abuse by Interpol and authoritarian regimes,” Alwadaei said in a statement.
Major General al-Raisi replaces Kim Jong Yan of South Korea, a vice president who was quickly elected to replace him for the remainder of Meng’s term.
Although the Secretary-General of Interpol operates Interpol on a day-to-day basis, the President plays a role in overseeing the work of the police body and guiding its overall general direction.
The President chairs Interpol general meetings and meetings of its Executive Committee.
Juergen Stock from Germany currently holds the post of Secretary-General.
About 470 police chiefs, ministers and other representatives from more than 160 countries attended the three-day meeting. Each participating country has one vote.
ABC / AP