The United Nations is being urged to take ‘decisive action’ to protect Princess Latifa Al Maktoum of Dubai who is now in ‘grave danger’ at the hands of her father, the ruler of Dubai.
The remarkable kidnapping of the 34-year-old princess by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for daring to leave Dubai against his wishes caught the world’s attention after Indian and Emirati troops stormed the boat Latifa and her friend Tiina Jauhiainen were on after Latifa’s escape from Dubai in February 2018.
Yet despite worldwide publicity and an award-winning BBC documentary, the princess remains held against her will in Dubai. She has not been seen in public since the boat was stormed on 4 March 2018.
Now the princess’s legal team is ramping up the pressure by calling on the 122nd session of the UN Working group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) to get the UN to intervene and force Dubai to provide precise details of Latifa’s whereabouts without delay.
In the recent submission to the WGEID meeting, leading human rights QC Rodney Dixon concludes: “We are anxious to ensure that the UN takes all possible steps now to secure the safety, health and release of [Princess Latifa].” And urges the UN to “take decisive action in respect of this case which has gone on for a considerable period of time while Princess Latifa remains in grave danger”.
Latifa’s high-powered legal team based in London also filed a 76-page submission to the UN WGEID Working Group at its last session earlier in the year which concluded, “Given the heightened and substantiated endangerment of Princess Latifa, we request the WGEID urgently intervene to guarantee Princess Latifa’s safety and welfare and to ensure that she is released immediately from being detained unlawfully in the UAE by the UAE authorities.”
The submission set out the ruling by Sir Andrew McFarlane at England’s 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, the ruler of Dubai, was not “open or honest” when trying to assure the world that Latifa was safe in his care.
Jones and Dixon are asking the UN to consider evidence from the London hearing, which warrants that:
- the WGEID’s investigation be given an urgent status
- the UN promptly require the UAE authorities immediately to provide precise details of Latifa’s whereabouts
- the UN promptly direct the UAE authorities to provide concrete and genuine guarantees for Latifa’s safety and welfare, including by providing immediate access to her, wherever she is held
- all necessary steps are urgently initiated for the UN to intervene and protect Latifa from all violations of her human rights, in particular, to direct that she is released immediately by the UAE authorities from her captivity.
Alun Jones QC said“We welcome the findings of Sir Andrew McFarlane relating to Princess Latifa. The judgment reflects the tireless work of Tiina Jauhiainen and David Haigh, whose efforts to free Princess Latifa and to assist Princess Haya been recognized by the High Court.
“It is a matter of grave concern that now that an English court has found that Princess Latifa and her sister Princess Shamsa have suffered from abduction, mistreatment and arbitrary imprisonment, the UK Government has nothing to say.
Rodney Dixon QC added “It is most concerning that despite the High Court judgment on 5 March 2020 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.”
David Haigh said, “The judgment from the High Court in London was emphatic. It’s now crucial that this evidence and the judgment of the highest family court judge in England, is used to bring about real change, starting with guarantees about Latifa’s safety, and – within the shortest possible time and the right circumstances – her release from captivity.
“The wagons are now circling around the embattled regime in Dubai. In the months since the London judgment, numerous people have indicated they will distance themselves from the toxic Al-Maktoum dynasty, including the UK’s Queen Elizabeth II. It’s now time for the UN to add its considerable weight to the fight against the human rights abuses being perpetrated by the UAE regime.”
Tiina Jauhiainen said “The recent submission is the culmination of two years of dedicated hard work that began whilst I was still detained in the UAE national security jail after I was kidnaped alongside Latifa.
“Since our initial submissions to the UN David and I have attended multiple sessions of the WGEID, most recently in Geneva with Latifa’s barrister Rodney Dixon in September 2019 and February 2020. It is to the UN that we now look to safeguard Latifa’s fundamental human rights as set down in the UniversalDeclaration of Human Rights, to secure her safety and her freedom.”
Notes to Editors
The judge in the London case of Princess Haya, Sir Andrew McFarlane, found that Latifa “was plainly desperate to extricate herself from her family and prepared to undertake a dangerous mission in order to do so” and that “there is no ground for doubting that it was indeed Latifa’s settled ambition to escape from Dubai.”
The court also found that the actions of Sheikh Mohammed “demonstrate a consistent course of conduct over two decades where, if he deems it necessary to do so, the father [Sheikh Mohammed] will use the very substantial powers at his disposal to achieve his particular aims” and that Sheikh Mohammed “continues to maintain a regime whereby both of these two young women [Latifa and her sister Shamsa] are deprived of their liberty, albeit within family accommodation in Dubai.”
The court ruled against Sheikh Mohammed in a custody battle he fought with his estranged wife Sheikha Haya over their two children. It found he had not been “open or honest” with the court over its assurances in January 2019 that Latifa was “safe and in the loving care of her family … and never has been arrested or detained.”
About Free Latifa
Princess Latifa stands for every person, especially every woman, who is held against their will when they have done nothing wrong. The Free Latifa Campaign is run by Latifa’s family, closest friends, supporters and advisors. It is headed by Latifa’s best friend Tiina Jauhiainen as Campaign Director, a human rights lawyer and campaigner David Haigh, Latifa’s cousin Marcus Essabri, and Latifa’s close friends Stephania Martinengo and Marco Remes. The campaign also benefits from the support of Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Detained International and a growing number of Latifa’s family, supporters, media, lawyers, politicians and celebrities around the world. The campaign is about positivity and love, we have one goal, to #FreeLatifa. Updates on the campaign can be found on www.freelatifa.com
Tiina Jauhiainen and David Haigh
Campaign to Free Latifa
Telephone: + 44 (0) 203 900 1188