UN calls for ‘concrete’ proof of Princess Latifa’s ‘hostage’ ordeal
Published: 13:57 21 April 2021 Updated: 14:54 21 April 2021
Princess Latifa Al Maktoum, daughter of Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum; Photo: Collected
The United Nations (UN) has called for “concrete” proof from United Arab Emirates (UAE) about the “hostage” ordeal of Princess Latifa Al Maktoum, daughter of Dubai’s ruler, who is reportedly being held in detention, alive.
In a statement issued in Geneva on Tuesday, UN human rights experts also said she should be released “urgently”.
The daughter of Dubai’s ruler who tried to flee the country in 2018 sent secret video messages to friends accusing her father of holding her “hostage” as she feared for her life.
In footage shared with BBC Panorama, Princess Latifa Al Maktoum says commandos drugged her as she fled by boat and flew her back to detention.
Although Princess Latifa’s friends are urging the UN to step in, the organization says it needs more details, information.
Dubai and the UAE have previously said she is safe in the care of her family.
The UN said on March 5 that they were still awaiting further details from the UAE – two weeks after an initial request made for proof of her life.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the UN experts called on the UAE Government to provide “meaningful information” on Princess Latifa “without delay”.
They asked for “independent verification” of the conditions under which she is being held, and for her immediate release. “She is being cared for at home is not sufficient at this stage,” the statement said.
“We are alarmed that, following the public release in February of footage in which Sheikh Latifa reported being deprived of her liberty against her will, and the subsequent official request for further information on her situation, no concrete information has been provided by the authorities,” the statement added.
In footage obtained by BBC Panorama, Princess Latifa said she was being held hostage in a “villa converted into a jail” with no access to medical help.
Latifa’s father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is one of the richest heads of state in the world, the ruler of Dubai and vice-president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
What happened to Princess Latifa?
The videos were recorded over several months on a phone Latifa was secretly given about a year after her capture and return to Dubai. She recorded them in a bathroom as it had the only door she could lock.
In the messages, she detailed how:
- She fought back against the soldiers taking her off the boat, “kicking and fighting” and biting one Emirati commando’s arm until he screamed.
- After being tranquilized, she lost consciousness as she was being carried on to a private jet, and didn’t wake up until it landed in Dubai.
- She was being held alone without access to medical or legal help in a villa with windows and doors barred shut, and guarded by police.
Latifa’s account of her capture and detention was revealed to Panorama by her close friend Tiina Jauhiainen, maternal cousin Marcus Essabri and campaigner David Haigh, who are all behind the Free Latifa campaign.
They say they have taken the difficult decision to release the messages now out of concern for Latifa’s safety.
It was they who managed to establish contact with Latifa as she was held in a Dubai “villa”, which she said had barred windows and police guards.
Ex-UN rights envoy Mary Robinson, who had described Latifa as a “troubled young woman” after meeting her in 2018, now says she was “horribly tricked” by the princess’s family.
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