BALI, Indonesia, Nov. 10 (UPI) -- Chinese and Russian law enforcement officials were elected Thursday to head the international police organization Interpol, sparking fears the appointments will bolster human-rights violations and efforts to track down political dissidents who have fled China.
China's Meng Hongwei and Russia's Alexander Prokopchuk were elected president and vice president, respectively, and assumed their posts immediately after the election. Meng, a former head of Interpol China, is the first Chinese official to be Interpol president. Prokopchuk, head of the Interpol National Central Bureau in Moscow, is the first Russian to be elected Interpol vice president.
Meng, taking the reigns from Mireille Ballestrazzi of France, said he plans to continue the tradition of global policing, with an eye on making changes based on current situations.
"We currently face some of the most serious global public security challenges since World War II," he said.
Amnesty International said the election of a Chinese law enforcement official could strengthen the country's quest to track down and punish those considered political dissidents, including some who have been granted asylum in other countries.
"This is extraordinarily worrying given China's longstanding practice of trying to use Interpol to arrest dissidents and refugees abroad," Nicholas Bequelin, regional director for East Asia Amnesty International, said.
Interpol is made up of law enforcement from 190 member countries in an effort to fight international crime, including terrorism and cyber crimes.