The UN orders UAE to prove kidnapped daughter of Dubai's ruler alive

The UN orders the UAE to prove kidnapped daughter of Dubai’s ruler is still alive

  • The UN human rights watchdog has ordered the UAE to prove Princess Latifa is still alive and provide more information about her current situation
  • It comes after Boris Johnson said he was ‘concerned’ about the Dubai princess  
  • Latifa secretly recorded a series of haunting videos claiming that she was being held prisoner by her father, Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Al Maktoum 
  • She smuggled videos to her best friend Tiina Jauhiainen, who released them to the BBC and MailOnline to draw attention to her friend’s plight  

The UN has ordered the UAE to prove that Princess Latifa, the daughter of Dubai’s ruler, is still alive after she released haunting videos saying she was being kept prisoner by her father. 

The UN human rights watchdog has also demanded more information about the princess and her current situation after she smuggled out the secretly recorded videos claiming she was being held hostage by Sheikh Al Maktoum. 

The move comes after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday he was ‘concerned’ about Princess Sheikha Latifi while Dominic Raab also demanded the UAE proves she is still alive. 

In the video, Latifa was recorded saying she has been locked in a villa without access to sunlight or fresh air while under constant police guard. 

‘We raised our concerns about the situation in light of the disturbing video evidence that emerged this week,’ Liz Throssell, spokeswoman for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, told an online briefing in Geneva. 

‘We requested more information and clarification about Sheikha Latifa’s current situation.’

‘Given the serious concerns about Sheikha Latifa, we have requested that the government’s response comes as a matter of priority. We did ask for proof of life,’ she said, adding the OHCHR agency would continue to monitor the situation closely. 

Latifa appeared in videos that she smuggled to friends using a phone in which she described being locked in a villa without access to daylight or fresh air and under constant police guard 

The agency had approached the country’s permanent mission in Geneva on Thursday, she said.   

Latifa has endured a difficult relationship with her father over the years that has resulted in her trying to escape his kingdom twice, once in 2002 and again in 2018. 

She said she tried to escape what she called his ‘repressive control’, claiming she had been drugged and tortured on the orders of her father. 

The sheikh has denied all abuse claims made by his daughter, who is one of 30 children he has with six wives.

In 2018 she fled the country by jet ski but was captured eight days later by Indian commandos off the coast of Goa and returned to her father’s custody, where she claimed, in the newly released footage, that she has been held captive ever since.

The royal recorded the videos over several weeks in 2019 and sent them to her best friend Tiina Jauhiainen, who released them to the BBC and MailOnline to draw attention to her friend’s plight.

Tiina says she is worried for the royal’s safety because she has not spoken to her for nine months. 

Princess Latifa and her best friend Tiina Jauhiainen pose for a selfie on the road to Oman on the first leg of their journey in 2018. Tiina says she is worried for the princess’s welfare because she has not heart from her in nine months when she assumes her phone was confiscated

Tiina said her last communication with the princess was in August when she believes her phone was confiscated – and claimed that the UAE security services had been ‘bugging’ the phone she used to talk with Latifa.

Speaking from her home in Finland, Tiina said: ‘Now is the time for world leaders to speak out. We are very hopeful that we can find out what has happened to Latifa and secure her freedom.

‘The Queen is a close friend of the Sheikh. She must now be aware of what he is doing to his daughter and we would welcome her intervention.

‘People have to speak up. The United Nations must take some action as this is a clear human rights abuse.

‘This cannot go on forever. There has to be something done so that Latifa can be free.’

Tiina, who helped the princess escape Dubai in 2018 before she was captured and returned to her father eight days later added: ‘Latifa hasn’t been in contact for nine months. I am guessing they discovered the phone and took it off her

Latifa has been held in Dubai since 2018 after a failed escape attempt. The last time she was seen alive was in December that year, when she was pictured alongside former UN high commissioner for human rights Mary Robinson (above)

‘The Finnish intelligence service recently told me that my mobile phone calls were being intercepted,’ she said.

‘I had long thought that I was being monitored and was advised to get a new phone. There is only one country that would be doing that.’

Tiina said she wanted world leaders, including Boris Johnson and new US President Joe Biden, to speak up about Latifa’s imprisonment.

The UN has said it will raise the issue of Latifa’s detention with the UAE, and may investigate once the videos have been analysed.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said it could question UAE officials about the princess’s situation.

If an investigation is launched, it would be led by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, a spokesman added.

When asked about Latifa’s situation today the UK’s Prime Minister Mr Johnson said: ‘The United Nations Commission on Human Rights is looking at that.   

‘I think what we’ll do is wait and see how they get on. We’ll keep an eye on.’  

Dominic Raab has demanded the UAE prove Princess Latifa, daughter of the ruler of Dubai, is alive after ‘concerning’ videos showed her in detention in a villa

Mr Raab said the ‘proper course’ of action for Britain is to follow the developments from the United Nations ‘quite closely’.

‘I have always raised human-rights issues, I always do, with foreign ministers, with the ambassadors,’ he told Sky News.

‘I think the right thing given what the United Nations has said is to follow very closely, and we are obviously always supportive of, the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights.

‘I think that is the proper course right now, to follow those developments quite closely.’ 

But he said sanctions cannot be applied ‘willy-nilly’, when asked if actions such as freezing assets could be taken.

‘It’s not as simple as saying: ‘Well, we could apply sanctions,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

‘There is a very strict legal threshold… it’s not simply the case that we can willy-nilly, if you like, just slap sanctions on individuals.’

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Latifa’s father, on Derby day at Epsom in 2017 with his estranged wife Princess Haya of Jordan who later fled the country in fear for her life

The Dubai government’s media office referred questions about the video to Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum’s law firm, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the video, published by the BBC, Latifa, 35, says: ‘I am a hostage and this villa has been converted into a jail.’

She said she was making the video in the bathroom of the villa, the only room she could lock herself into, adding: ‘All the windows are barred shut, I can’t open any window.’  

Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum drew international attention in 2018 when a human rights group released a video made by her in which she described an attempt to escape Dubai.

Last March, a London High Court judge said he accepted as proved a series of allegations made by Sheikh Mohammed’s former wife, Princess Haya, in a legal battle, including that the sheikh ordered the abduction of Latifa. 

The sheikh’s lawyers rejected the allegations.

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