Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE crown prince, elected Interpol president

The International Criminal Police Organisation’s executive committee has chosen Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who has been criticised for his human rights record, as its new president.

Hamdan, Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, will serve a two-year term beginning on Wednesday. The committee picked him from a field of 13 candidates, including three South African candidates.

Guidelines required candidates to declare that they or their families are not in conflict with international human rights standards. In 2014, al-Jazeera’s Maryam al-Khawaja cited Hamdan, the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, as an example of UAE officials who are not open to criticism.

“One of the conditions that the UAE has put in place, and which we find very unreasonable, is that they said a candidate cannot have family members or business dealings with any member of any of the rebel forces, which of course is a violation of international humanitarian law,” al-Khawaja said.

“We know that the Emirati diplomat or government official that I write about … is all over Yemen, and has frequently intervened with the Saudi-led coalition.”

In 2011, Hamdan visited the Saudi city of Khobar, the site of the worst terrorist attack on foreign diplomatic staff in the country’s history, which killed 20 Emiratis. According to reports, he allegedly made comments that could be deemed supportive of al-Qaida.

Human Rights Watch said Hamdan “appears to reject core elements of the basic concept of accountability”. “While it is right for Interpol to debate major global criminal matters, its president should accept critical inspections of his political track record.”

But Hamdan said he would represent all of the organisation’s member states, including the UAE.

“We will continue to provide stability at the level of the government, at the level of the institutions,” he said. “And we will be ready to talk about any important international issues that may affect our membership.”

Lifting restrictions on individuals could only remove the need for international cooperation by other countries, he said.

Al-Khawaja told the Gulf News on Tuesday that she hoped Hamdan’s election would lead to greater transparency. “We need someone who is open to having an intelligent debate on international issues as far as their laws are concerned,” she said.

The Emirates has faced allegations of torture and deprivation of rights at home and on its borders, but attempts to challenge the UAE’s monopoly on sovereign airspace in March were overturned by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

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