What Has Happened & When?
The following is a timeline detailing the events surrounding the escape, and subsequent involuntary return, of Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (II), the daughter of the ruler of Dubai.
At its heart, this is the timeline of a young woman’s yearning to live in liberty and freedom, away from her controlling family. The story of a brave attempt to escape to the West; and the sadness and mystery surrounding her current whereabouts and wellbeing.
24th February 2018
Sheikha Latifa of Dubai boarded the US-registered yacht, the Nostromo, in her attempt to escape her father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Ruler of the Emirate of Dubai.
Latifa was aboard the yacht with captain and US-French citizen Hervé Jaubert, her friend Tiina Jauhiainen, and three Filipino crew members. The plan was to sail to Goa, India, travel to Mumbai, and fly to the United States where Latifa intended to claim political asylum.
However, Latifa remained in fear for her life and concerned that, not only would authorities from the UAE, acting on orders from her father, stop at nothing to capture and return her to Dubai, but that Indian authorities may also attempt to intervene.
26th February 2018
French national Christian Elombo was arrested and detained in Muscat, Oman, for assisting in Sheikha Latifa’s escape from Dubai.
Latifa contacted Radha Stirling, the CEO of Detained in Dubai, requesting assistance. She explained her reasons for fleeing the UAE in the following email.
After receiving the initial communication, Detained in Dubai sought to evaluate the veracity of the claim and to verify the sender’s identity. The initial message was followed up with photographs of her personal identification documents, including her UAE passport.
These photographs can be viewed here.
4th March 2018
At 18:24GMT, Radha Stirling received a WhatsApp voice call from Sheikha Latifa. Latifa was panicking and described how the Nostromo was under attack with men attempting to board the vessel. She relayed that she and her friend were hiding after hearing a number of gunshots.
The voice call was an SOS indicating that the yacht was being subjected to a hostile boarding. Subsequently, there has been no contact from Latifa.
5th March 2018
Following the events of the previous evening, and with no further contact from Sheikha Latifa, Radha Stirling contacted the Metropolitan Police of London. The purpose of the contact was to report both Latifa and Hervé Jaubert as missing so that inquiries could commence.
The full letter can be viewed in full below.
9th March 2018
The Daily Mail was first to break the story and release part of Latifa’s video.
14th March 2018
Detained In Dubai, in it’s capacity as representatives for Sheikha Latifa and her companions, instructed Toby Cadman, a leading human rights barrister with Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers in London, to raise the situation with the United Nations.
During a panel discussion on the sidelines of the 37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, Mr. Cadman spoke of Latifa’s plight.
18th March 2018
With no information on the whereabouts of the vessel Nostromo or its occupants for two weeks, Radha Stirling contacted the Indian Coast Guard to inquire as to whether an investigation had been opened, as per their obligations under international law into the reports of a disappearance. That email is included below.
19th March 2018
The Jauhiainen family of Finland appeals for information regarding the whereabouts of the missing Tiina Jauhiainen. Ms. Jauhiainen is confirmed to be missing from the same yacht as Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum and Hervé Jaubert, the US-flagged Nostromo.
The full press release can be viewed here:
20th March 2018
After 16 days with no indication of the location of the Nostromo, the mystery continued to grow. However, the reactivation of the vessel’s AIS transponder on 20 March, 2018, provided a new, precise location.
The Nostromo was in port, but not just any port…
The system revealed the yacht was moored in the UAE naval port of Fujairah, one of the seven emirates of the UAE. This was despite UAE authorities denying any knowledge of the vessel’s whereabouts.
The precise tracking location can be viewed here.
The captain of the Nostromo, Hervé Jaubert, and three Filipino crew members were released by the UAE without charge after being detained for nearly two weeks in an undisclosed UAE prison.
22nd March 2018
Latifa’s friend, Finnish national Tiina Jauhiainen, is released by the UAE without charge after being held in secret for nearly two weeks.
5th April 2018
Christian Elombo is released from detention in Muscat, Oman and immediately travels to Luxembourg.
6th April 2018
Christian Elombo is detained again upon landing in Luxembourg due to an INTERPOL Red Notice initiated by the UAE for assisting in Latifa’s escape from Dubai.
14th April 2018
Lawyers acting on Latifa’s case: Toby Cadman, David Haigh and Radha Stirling held a press conference in London on the attack of the Nostromo and kidnapping of Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum, Tiina Jauhiainen, Hervé Jaubert, and three crew members.
2nd May 2018
The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) transmitted an urgent communication to the governments of the UAE and India.
4th May 2018
BBC Two’s award-winning current affairs show Newsnight covers Sheikha Latifa’s case after its earlier reporting on the press conference in April 2018.
5th May 2018
Leading international NGO and human rights advocacy organization Human Rights Watch backs the Free Latifa Campaign and urges Dubai to clarify the status of Latifa Al Maktoum. In a statement, HRW said Dubai authorities must reveal her whereabouts and clarify her legal status.
8th May 2018
The Finnish minister of foreign affairs backs Latifa’s story in a public statement.
17th May 2018
Christian Elombo is released from custody in Luxembourg after the UAE initiated INTERPOL Red Notice for involvement in Latifa’s escape is finally invalidated.
18th July 2018
Award winning Australian TV show 60 Minutes dedicated a full hour-long episode to Sheikha Latifa and the story of her escape.
4th September 2018
The leading international human rights charity, Amnesty International, calls for the release of Latifa Al Maktoum.
14th September 2018
Toby Cadman, Head of Chambers at Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers, along with Radha Stirling and David Haigh of ‘Detained in Dubai’, addressed the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID), again highlighting the case of Sheikha Latifa and her ongoing disappearance.