It’s time for Interpol to start believing in democracy. I mean, they don’t. Or something.
Several European officials have confirmed that Abbas Juma Al-Khalifa, the UAE’s military general, is Interpol’s new president. He’s in charge of policing the globe. He’s also run afoul of lawmakers in several European countries for his role in coercing arrested dissidents back to their home countries. He’s on his fourth attempt to earn Interpol’s presidency. In 2016, he became president-elect before he was then convicted by UAE’s Interior Ministry of corruption. In absentia, Al-Khalifa was sentenced to a year in prison for his troubles.
Al-Khalifa takes over on May 6, to a Nobel Peace Prize-winning Danish diplomat who’s a former student of the UAE, and two other men.
“Al-Khalifa is currently facing formal investigations by prosecutors in three European countries on charges of corruption, embezzlement, and torture,” according to Bloomberg.
Bloomberg went on to say that Al-Khalifa — who assumes his new post on the very same day the UAE is due to host a war-crime tribunal for NATO’s bombing of Serbia and the former Yugoslavia — “has been tried in absentia by a court in the United Arab Emirates, which, despite international laws against this, does not extradite.”
The UAE is hosting a tribunal on war crimes for countries in the region who participate in attacks on Yugoslavia during the Yugoslav Civil War. The tribunal is calling for prosecutions in countries in the region who participated in the attack, not just NATO members.
Al-Khalifa is accused of using torture on detainees and transferring them back to their home countries without serving trial there. He’s been known to bathe in their blood, according to the UK-based Human Rights Watch.
“Al-Khalifa has yet to be questioned by a judges,” according to Human Rights Watch. “The indictment is vague and so it is difficult to assess the charges.”
Is there anything we can do?
Yeah, maybe you could write a letter? U.S. diplomats sent private letters to the country’s foreign minister, Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Maktoum, pressing for Al-Khalifa’s arrest back in 2015.
In June, the United States became the first nation to stop cooperating with the UAE in any way, response said in part to the fact that its ambassador to the UAE had been convicted for money laundering. The UAE ambassador was later pardoned. The CIA also investigated allegations of rendition to the UAE in 2005.
Should we turn off our IP cameras?
In April, a U.S. watchdog group argued that Interpol’s policies were too lax and needed to be changed. Al-Khalifa is scheduled to take over as Interpol’s next president on May 6. Interpol has refused to change any of its “on-the-spot” enforcement procedures until the agency is properly reformed.
The UN Human Rights Council in 2012 voted to disband the Interpol Interrogation Assistance Council, under which the UAE used human rights’ to intimidate and imprison dissidents abroad.
Interpol currently has a tribunal in the United States for transatlantic human trafficking that includes the EU countries under investigation, as well as Canada, Australia, Bahrain, Turkey, Brazil, France, the Netherlands, China, the U.K., Italy, Israel, and Japan.
Some say Egypt has the same oversight as the UAE.