October 26, 2021
Update: The letter was sent to Project Associates through the Company Response Mechanism of the Business and Human Rights Resources Centre. As of November 7, 2021, Project Associates did not respond.
To: Project Associates
Re: Project Associates’ client relationship with the UAE authorities and Mr. Ahmed Al Raisi
We, the undersigned human rights organisations, are writing to express our concern regarding recent reports that Project Associates has been hired to promote the candidacy of Ahmed Al Raisi, the General Inspector of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ministry of Interior, to the presidency of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL).
We are also aware of previous reports that a contract was signed between the National Media Council of the UAE and Project Associates in 2017.
Given the human rights record in the UAE, the continued abuses perpetrated by state security forces under Al Raisi’s leadership, and the multiple allegations of torture filed against him in France and the United Kingdom, we ask you to fully consider your moral and legal responsibilities under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and urge you to terminate your contract and cease your representation of the UAE government and Mr. Ahmed Al Raisi.
Current litigation against Al Raisi for alleged torture
As the Inspector General of the Ministry of Interior, a position he has held since 2015, Al Raisi is responsible for overseeing the organisation and management of the security and police forces in the UAE as well as investigating any complaints against those forces.
Al Raisi is a leading figure in a security apparatus that tolerates no criticism or dissent and systematically violates human rights. At the hands of the UAE security forces, lawyers, journalists, political activists, and human rights defenders have been forcibly disappeared, tortured, arbitrarily detained, and intimidated for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression or simply doing their jobs.
In addition, two torture complaints under the principle of universal jurisdiction are pending in France against Al Raisi. The first was lodged in June 2021 for the torture of prominent Emirati human rights defender, Ahmed Mansoor, who is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for his peaceful activism. The second complaint was filed in September 2021 against seven individuals, including Al Raisi, on behalf of two British victims of torture in the UAE. Civil cases have also been filed in the United Kingdom against the same individuals. If successful, these cases would require French and U.K. authorities to arrest Al Raisi should he appear on French or British territory.
EU parliament and civil society outcry
Numerous human rights organisations have previously raised concerns over the candidacy of Al Raisi, which clearly undermines INTERPOL’s mission, tarnishes the organization’s reputation, and contradicts its commitment to professionalism and international human rights standards.
On 15 September 2021, the European parliament adopted a resolution that “calls on the members of Interpol’s General Assembly, and in particular the EU Member States, to duly examine the allegations of human rights abuses concerning General Major Nasser Ahmed al-Raisi ahead of the election of the presidency of the organisation from 23 to 25 November,” and “notes the concerns expressed by civil society regarding his candidacy and the potential impact on the reputation of the institution.”
By providing consulting services to Al Raisi, Project Associates is actively supporting the efforts of the UAE to obfuscate its record of human rights abuses and is advocating for a possible outcome in which INTERPOL, an international law enforcement organization, would be led by an individual credibly accused of torture. In light of the UAE’s appalling human rights record and Al Raisi’s involvement in these abuses, we urge you to terminate your contract and cease your representation of Ahmed Al Raisi and the UAE government.
We look forward to your response.
Signatories: ALQST for Human Rights, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), Association for Victims of Torture-UAE (AVT-UAE), Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), Detained International, Emirates Detainees Advocacy Centre (EDAC), European Center for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR), Fair Trials, International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE, MENA Rights Group, Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED).