A lawyer and friend of missing Princess Latifa of Dubai says former president Mary Robinson has vowed to “help in the campaign to free her” and has a “critical and key” role to play.
The captive daughter of Dubai’s ruler, who is reportedly being held hostage by her father, was previously described by Mrs Robinson as a “troubled young woman”.
The former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights was forced to apologise after a photograph of her and the princess went viral in 2018 and re-emerged last month as part of a BBC Panorama broadcast.
Mrs Robinson claims she was “horribly tricked” by the family.
The documentary also showed videos that Latifa had secretly recorded on a phone that had been smuggled in for her, in which she claimed she had been held hostage by her father following a failed escape attempt.
In an interview with the BBC, Mrs Robinson said she had been misled at a lunch in 2018 into believing the princess had bipolar disorder and was traumatised by her escape attempt.
Human rights lawyer David Haigh, a friend of Latifa’s, says Mrs Robinson is “one of the few key credible and certainly qualified eyewitnesses to what effectively has now been proven to be Dubai’s abuse of Latifa’s human rights and their attempts to cover those abuses up”.
He says Mrs Robinson is “one of the very few people whose judgment as to Latifa’s situation can be trusted”.
Almost two decades earlier, an attempt by Latifa’s older sister Shamsa to flee the family also ended in capture and imprisonment. In August 2000, about two months after escaping from her father’s estate in Surrey, Shamsa was taken from Cambridge and flown back to Dubai by private jet.
In an interview with RTÉ’s Late Late Show this month, Mrs Robinson referred to having spoken to a doctor who had treated Shamsa.
“Mary Robinson’s information on Shamsa that she touched on could also be critical for any Cambridgeshire police investigation into the kidnap and her disappearance,” says Mr Haigh. “She discusses a doctor in Dubai that misled her by saying that Shamsa and Latifa suffered from bipolar.”
The Free Latifa campaign is to report Mrs Robinson’s remarks on what the doctor allegedly told her to Cambridgeshire police who have been investigating Shamsa’s disappearance. “We are sure they will be interested in any additional evidence as to the fate of Shamsa,” Mr Haigh said.
Last night, he confirmed the Free Latifa campaign was in contact with Mrs Robinson.
“Mary Robinson and ourselves are working on parallel tracks towards our shared aim of ensuring safety and securing freedom for Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum in the near future,” he said.
Tiina Jauhiainen, also a friend of Latifa’s, said the campaign “welcomes the public commitment of Mary Robinson in supporting them in releasing Princess Latifa from her illegal imprisonment”.
Mrs Robinson has declined to comment further.