THE ruler of Dubai did imprison his princess daughter and must be brought to justice, the UN has said.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum “ordered and orchestrated” the kidnapping of his daughter Princess Latifa, 34, two years ago after she fled the emirate he rules, according to a judgement by the UK High Court in March.
Yet despite worldwide publicity and her plight being featured in an award-winning BBC documentary – Escape from Dubai: The Mystery of a Missing Princess – she is still being held against her will in her homeland.
She has not been seen in public since the luxury yacht she was staying on with a friend was stormed by commandos in the Indian Ocean in March 2018.
The UN’s Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) has backed a complaint by the Free Latifa campaign, who had called on it to intervene in the case.
The WGEID found that the United Nations Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances had been breached and that Dubai should be investigated and brought to justice.
They also found that adequate compensation should be given to Latifa.
Human rights lawyer David Haigh, who co-founded the Free Latifa campaign, said: “This is a terrific judgement, and we are encouraged that it will lead to freedom for Latifa.
“We’re particularly pleased the WGEID didn’t allow itself to be intimidated by the refusal of the UAE government to cooperate with it or be taken in by the UAE’s dishonesty and deception, but instead have relied on the considerable evidence we submitted.
In a letter to Mr Haigh, the WGEID chief rapporteur Tae-Ung Baik said his group had concluded that “Sheikha Latifa is currently held in incommunicado detention in… Dubai.”
He said the working group was “concerned” for Latifa.
The WGEID said that, having located Latifa, the first part of its role was over, but it brought on board several other UN working groups to take the case further.
Those UN groups deal with with violence against women, arbitrary detention, and torture, inhumane and degrading treatment.
Mr Haigh added: “We’re grateful that the WGEID have ensured the UN will keep pressing for fair treatment for Latifa under the requirements of international law.
“Because the perpetrator of Latifa’s detention is her father who rules the country, the fox is still in charge of the hen house, but the WGEID’s judgement is a slap in the face for Sheikh Mohammed’s despotic rule and his disregard for his daughter’s human rights, and we very much believe this could be see a route open for the release of Latifa.”
Tiina Jauhiainen, co-founder of the Free Latifa campaign, said, “Once again we have Dubai breaking international law, failing to respond to United Nations requests, and abusing the human rights of the ruler’s own family.
“How much longer will the world stand idly by while a state seeking acceptance in the developed world rides roughshod over the laws and values that are integral to our society and international community?
“The UN has now found that my friend Latifa, kidnapped at gun point in March 2018, is detained against her will in Dubai in breach of international law.
“The UN and the international community must now enforce this finding and require the UAE to free Latifa and bring the UAE and Indian perpetrators to justice.”
Latifa’s cousin Marcus Essabri, who now lives in England, added: “I have known Latifa since she was a little girl.
“She is a wonderful woman who wants nothing more than to go out and see the world and find her natural place in it.
“I am overwhelmed by the support for my cousin and cannot not thank the WGEID members enough for their commitment to securing justice for her.
“But we are up against a ruler who doesn’t care about world opinion unless it really affects him, so our efforts to free Latifa and her sister Shamsa must not only go on but be intensified.”
In an earlier 40 minute video, Latifa revealed she had tried to leave the Emirates aged 16 but was captured at the border, jailed for three years, beaten and tortured.
The UAE insists that Latifa is alive, safe and living with her family in Dubai.
In the submission to the WGEID, leading human rights QC Rodney Dixon declared: “We are anxious to ensure that the UN takes all possible steps now to secure the safety, health and release of [Princess Latifa].”
Latifa’s UK-based legal team also filed a 76-page submission to the WGEID earlier in the year which called for the immediate release of the royal.
That submission set out the ruling by Sir Andrew McFarlane at the High Court in the custody battle between Princess Haya of Jordan and Latifa’s father.
That ruling included the findings that Latifa was kidnapped in 2018 and her father was not “open or honest” when trying to assure the world that Latifa was safe in his care.
It also found the sheikh waged a campaign of “fear and intimidation” against his sixth wife Princess Haya, who recently fled to Britain fearing he would kill her.
Rodney Dixon QC said: “It is most concerning that despite the High Court judgement finding that Princess Latifa had been kidnapped, and worldwide calls for the urgent release of Latifa, she remains in captivity.
“Her fundamental human rights are being unjustifiably restricted and abused. The international community can no longer stand by.
“We are petitioning the UN Working Groups on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances and on Arbitrary Detention and other bodies to get access to her without delay and to ensure that she is released unharmed.
“It is vital more than ever now that the UN should take all necessary action to secure Latifa’s immediate release having been unlawfully held in the UAE for over two years.