PARIS (AP) — Human rights groups and Western lawmakers are warning that Interpol’s powerful network of global police officers could end up under the sway of authoritarian governments, as the world police agency meets in Istanbul this week to elect new leadership.
Representatives of countries like China and the United Arab Emirates are bidding for top posts in the France-based policing body when its general assembly convenes in Turkey on Tuesday.
Interpol says it refuses to be used for political ends. Critics contend that if these candidates win, instead of hunting down drug smugglers, human traffickers, war crimes suspects and alleged extremists, their countries would use Interpol’s global reach to apprehend exiled dissidents and even political opponents at home.
Two candidates have drawn special criticism: Maj. Gen. Ahmed Naser al-Raisi, inspector general at the UAE's interior ministry, who is seeking to be elected Interpol’s president for a four-year term; and Hu Binchen, an official at China’s ministry of public security, expected to be up for a vacant spot on Interpol’s executive committee.
A vote is expected Thursday. Interpol’s president and executive committee set policy and direction. They also supervise the body’s secretary-general who handles the day-to-day operations and is its public face. That post is filled by German official Juergen Stock.
Al-Raisi is accused of torture and has criminal complaints against him in five countries, including in France, where Interpol has its headquarters, and in Turkey, where the election is taking place.
And Hu is backed by China’s government, which is suspected to have used the global police agency to hunt down exiled dissidents and of disappearing its citizens.
Appointing Hu could be fraught with peril — including,...