The United Arab Emirates is called the Emirate of Happiness. High towers, luxury resorts, life and well-being are dreamed of by many, but behind this beauty is a different reality of the country. The golden image that the Gulf state seeks to promote itself never reflects reality.
The United Arab Emirates has one of the worst records in the world on freedom of expression and the press. The Internet is subject to strict censorship, preventing a number of human rights organisations from working, petitioning and even obtaining information and news. Not only the access to information is denied, but also the concerned persons are criminalised for espionage, subjected to torture, strained to sign a forced confession and thus imprisoned without a fair trial.
Major General Ahmed Al-Raisi President of the Interpol as a Reward for UAE‘s Financial Contribution to the Interpol
UAE Major General Ahmed Al-Raisi was elected, last week, head of Interpol, despite accusations of torture, in a campaign of criticism led by jurists warning of this move. Meanwhile, three European deputies, including the Chairperson of the Committee of the European Parliament, rejected this decision and wrote a letter to the European Commission’s President that the election of the Al-Raisi would have a significant impact on the performance of the organisation.
19 NGOs accused Al-Raisi of systematically targeting the peaceful opposition.
It is worth mentioning that the United Arab Emirates contributed with 50 million Euros donations to Interpol in 2017, roughly equivalent to the contributions of the 1,195 Member States to the Organsation.
The fact that the United Arab Emirates made a transaction, as the Interpol Member States, was for Interpol to turn a blind eye to the President-elect because of this bribery.
Nevertheless, the lawyer Calvert Smith said: “This donation creates at least the impression that the position of President of the Organisation can be seen as a reward for a financial contribution.”
The Secretary-General of the organisation, Chok, who has all the practical power of Interpol, said in his defense for this election that the organisation is not blind, that there are clear procedures for monitoring the work and that no member of the Executive Committee could change that, while legal activists objected, asserting that the UAE President of Interpol would not be working to verify and ratify the UAE’s human rights and criminal justice record.
Expo Dubai had become a cover for UAE violations
The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in plenary, last October, on an urgent resolution condemning human rights violations in the United Arab Emirates, focusing on the case of human rights defender Ahmed Mansour, and the continued use of torture and persecution of detainees. It also issued a resolution calling on Member States to boycott the 2020 exhibition in Dubai early last October, and on global companies to withdraw their sponsorship, protesting against the human rights record and a series of human rights violations by UAE authorities, including widespread violations against women and war crimes in Yemen.
Nevertheless, the exhibition had become a cover for violations, as businessmen and diplomats ignored the call, and their participation in the exhibition was shocking. Last October, the Deputy Director of the Middle East Section of Human Rights Watch said that with massive arrests, intimidation, surveillance and retaliation faced by citizens and residents for speaking out, Expo participants and other States must raise concerns about rights violations in the Emirates. She added that States participating in the exhibition must ensure that they do not polish Emirates’ image and cover-up its violations.
Interpol needs to reform the controversial Red Notice system
Interpol has long faced criticism as an organisation for failing to reform the controversial Red Notice system.
Member States can issue alerts to others that there is a request for an arrest. In particular, the United Arab Emirates has been well known for using Interpol red notices as a means of tracking down and harassing opponents. This is not considered a crime by most States.
Sandra Grossman, a lawyer who testified in the United States Senate about the misuse of Interpol red Notice by States as a means of transnational repression, said in a statement to Middle East Eye: “Interpol is a valuable and decisive organisation for combating transnational crime”. But due to some shortcomings in its system, it is also prone to misuses and abuses by authoritarian regimes.” She added that there are many examples of this, including countries such as Turkey and Russia that use the great power of the Red Notice to search for political opponents outside their borders.
These practices, from the appointment of the United Arab Emirates General as President of Interpol to the broad participation of the United Nations and most States in the Expo Dubai, without taking into account the human rights violations being committed by the United Arab Emirates, have serious implications for the international community, as these violations are covered by the payment of money in the name of voluntary contributions.