Is Dubai Princess Latifa still alive? The UN wants proof

Geneva: UN human rights experts have expressed alarm at the lack of an answer by Dubai’s government to repeated requests for proof that Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum, a daughter of Dubai’s billionaire ruler, is alive and well.

“Evidence of life and assurances regarding her wellbeing are urgently required,” the UN analysts said in a statement, which comes two months after friends of Latifa released dramatic video footage in which she said she was being held prisoner in a Dubai palace and feared for her life.

Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum in her latest video, aired in February.Credit:Screengrab/BBC

The 13 experts, including members of a panel that deals with enforced disappearances, sought to escalate international pressure on Dubai’s government by calling for Latifa’s immediate release.

“It’s now incumbent on world leaders to support the UN and give their backing for her immediate release,” David Haigh, a British lawyer campaigning for Latifah’s freedom, said in a phone interview.

The 35-year-old princess tried to escape her closely controlled life in Dubai twice, in 2002 and in 2018. On the second occasion she fled aboard a yacht, only to be snatched by Indian commandos who raided the vessel close to the coast of India and handed her over to Emirati security officers.

Latifa has been virtually unseen in public since then, appearing once in a photo of a 2018 lunch attended by Mary Robinson, the former Irish president. At the time, Robinson said she believed that Latifa was mentally troubled and receiving good care from her family, but she later told the BBC she had been “horribly tricked”.

‘I was absolutely stunned,’ said ex-Irish president Mary Robinson after the picture of her with Latifa emerged.

“Every day, I’m worried about my safety in my life,” Latifa said in her recent video, which friends said was recorded on a mobile phone and smuggled out by intermediaries. “I don’t really know if I’m going to survive this situation.”

Dubai’s prior assurances that she was being looked after by family and medical professionals were “not sufficient at this stage,” the UN panel said.

United Arab Emirates diplomatic missions in Geneva and London could not be reached for comment on the UN panel’s statement.

Concern for Latifa’s wellbeing has been reinforced by accounts of harsh behaviour by her father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, that emerged in divorce proceedings filed in British courts by one of his wives, Princess Haya.

A judge found last year that Mohammed had also abducted Latifah’s sister Shamsa. The court heard she was seized on the streets of Cambridge in August 2000 after leaving an estate owned by her father, then taken by helicopter to France and flown back to Dubai.

In a bid to step up international pressure, Haigh said the campaign would ask the British and US governments and the European Union next week to impose financial sanctions and travel bans on Mohammed and five others he said are implicated in Latifa’s detention. They include the Emirati security chief, Major General Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi, who the United Arab Emirates has put forward as a candidate to lead the international policing organisation Interpol, Haigh said.

Mohammed, ranked among the world’s richest men, has major holdings and investments in Britain and the United States. A passionate horse enthusiast, his investments include the racing organisation Godolphin, whose horse Essential Quality is a favourite to win the Kentucky Derby on May 1.

The New York Times

Most Viewed in World

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article