A number of international human rights organisations expressed "deep concern" on Wednesday over the candidacy of Major General Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi, the General Inspector of the UAE Interior Ministry, as head of the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol).
In a joint letter to Secretary-General Jurgen Stock, the NGOs said that the appointment would "undermine" Interpol's reputation and mission, and have a serious impact on its ability to carry out its mission effectively and in good faith.
"Given the UAE's poor human rights record," said the rights groups, "including the systematic use of torture and ill-treatment in state security facilities, Mr Al-Raisi's appointment as president would damage Interpol's reputation and stand in great contradiction to the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the organisation's mission."
As a state representative of the UAE, they pointed out, Al-Raisi is part of a security apparatus that continues to systematically target peaceful critics, rendering civic space virtually non-existent in the country. "Lawyers, journalists, political activists and human rights defenders in the UAE have been subjected to harsh reprisals, intimidation tactics, enforced disappearances, torture and arbitrary detention as a result of peacefully expressing their opinions, including on trumped-up 'terrorism' charges."
Furthermore, the letter highlighted that the UAE is responsible for grave violations of human rights and humanitarian law beyond the country's borders.
The signatories to the letter include the Association for Victims of Torture in the UAE, Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE and International Centre for Justice and Human Rights.
The decision about the appointment of the new head of Interpol will be made during its General Assembly on 7-8 December. Ominously, the meeting is scheduled to be hosted by Abu Dhabi.