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Avoiding the sinking of Interpol

Editorial of the « World ». In the collective imagination, the International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO), known as “Interpol”, is a respectable institution dedicated to the cooperation of police forces around the world in order to arrest criminals. In reality, this platform linking the police services of 194 countries is underfunded, its operation is opaque and its results are inconclusive. As if that were not enough, it is increasingly hijacked by authoritarian regimes to hunt down their political opponents.

Thursday, November 25, the thirteen members of its executive council, including its president, are to be appointed during a general assembly in Istanbul. The big favorite of this vote is General Ahmed Naser Al-Raisi, inspector general of the Ministry of the Interior of the United Arab Emirates.

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That a dignitary of an authoritarian regime where the State – and therefore the police – operates without the slightest counter-power, implicated in addition in multiple scandals of wiretapping and hacking, is already more than problematic. But the general who could lead the world police from Thursday is the target in France by several complaints of torture. One of them was filed in the name of human rights activist Ahmed Mansour, sentenced in 2018, after a parody of justice, to ten years in prison for «  damage to the reputation of the State « . Since then, he has been held in solitary confinement, without visits, in a 4 square meter cell.

Chronic underfunding

Interpol has never been a shining example of international cooperation. Its history – founded in 1923 in Vienna, it passed into the hands of the Nazis after the annexation of Austria by the IIIe Reich – is tumultuous. But, well managed, flawlessly directed, it could constitute a crucial tool at a time when the transnational character of crime, terrorism and all types of trafficking is asserting itself. In particular for the poor States deprived of the diplomatic or economic levers allowing to obtain information.

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However, the chronic underfunding of the organization favors its manipulation by authoritarian regimes. The Emirates, which have become the second largest contributor to its budget, are also, along with China and Russia, one of the states which use the “red notices” the most for political purposes, these international wanted notices issued by Interpol.

It would be simply catastrophic if General Al-Raisi, a senior police officer in a country known for its lack of democracy and human rights violations, prosecuted for acts of torture, were appointed to head an organization managing the files of wanted persons. globally and supposed to respect international law. As Interpol’s centenary approaches and after the trauma of the sudden disappearance of its previous president, the Chinese Meng Hongwei, imprisoned in China since 2018 and of whom we have no news, it would be a disastrous symbol.

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France maintains excellent relations with Abu Dhabi, where it has a military base; she hopes to sell Rafale planes to the Emirates. However, it which has hosted the headquarters of Interpol since 1946 – in Paris, Saint-Cloud, then Lyon since 1989 – has a special responsibility. Paris cannot contribute to the misappropriation of an international organization. A president worthy of the missions of global interest of the ICDO must be appointed. Emmanuel Macron, who defends the country’s exemplary human rights, must do everything to avoid the sinking of Interpol.

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