Independent experts working with the U.N. human rights office on Tuesday called on the United Arab Emirates' government to provide more details about the fate of a daughter of Dubai’s powerful ruler who has claimed she was taken hostage.
The experts called for the immediate release of Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum, who turned up in videos broadcast by the BBC two months ago in which she questioned whether she would survive. They expressed concerns about alleged rights violations she has faced, and possible threats to her life.
“We are alarmed that, following the public release in February of footage in which Sheikha 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,” said the experts, who have been contracted as independent advisers to the United Nations by the U.N.-backed Human Rights Council.
Sheikha Latifa, a daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, tried to flee the UAE in 2018 only to be detained by commandos in a boat off India. The sheikh is prime minister and a vice president of the hereditarily ruled country.
The experts called for independent verification of where Sheikha Latifa is, and urged her immediate release.
“Her continued incommunicado detention can have harmful physical and psychological consequences and may amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” they said. “Evidence of life and assurances regarding her well-being are urgently required.”
The FreeLatifa Campaign, founded by two of the Princess's friends, welcomed the statement from the UN experts.
"If the UAE do not release Latifa, then the international community must take action. We confirm that Robert Dixon QC and our legal team will be applying to the (British) Foreign Office for sanctions to be implemented against those responsible for the continued and grave abuses of Latifa's human rights, including her father, the Dubai ruler," David Haigh, co-founder of the campaign, said.
"Similar sanction requests will also be made in the EU and the United States," he added.