In the time since Latifa was kidnapped by her father’s security forces, millions of people around the world have heard her story, in her own words
The Free Latifa campaign has gone from strength to strength. Its first act was to publish the 40+ minute video Latifa made just before she made her escape from Dubai in February 2018. This had a massive impact and continues to do so today.
In May 2018 the Free Latifa campaign received the backing of Human Rights Watch:
“The UAE authorities should immediately reveal whether they are detaining Sheikha Latifa and her whereabouts” Sarah Whitson – Human Rights Watch Middle East Director
Followed by Amnesty International in September 2018.
“Amnesty International calls on the UAE to immediately disclose Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum’s whereabouts. If she is deprived of her liberty, she should have contact with lawyers and loved ones and access to all fair trial guarantees. If she is only held for having tried to flee the country or for any other reason incompatible with human rights standards, she should be immediately and unconditionally released.” Amnesty International
For nine months the UAE were silent over the fate of Latifa. It was only after the BBC screened ‘Escape from Dubai’ on 6 December 2018, an hour-long documentary that Tiina, David and the team had produced with the BBC, that the UAE were forced to reveal they had abducted Latifa. Days later we found out that Latifa’s stepmother, Princess Haya, paid for her friend Mary Robinson, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, to provide a veneer of respectability by visiting Dubai and testifying that Latifa “regrets trying to escape” and was back “in the loving care of her family”. Robinson was roundly condemned for those comments and for interfering in a live human rights issue; she has partially retracted her comments.
On the fourth of most months since her abduction, the Free Latifa campaign has put out a statement reminding the world that another month has gone by and Latifa is still being held against her will by the very family she and her sister spent two decades trying to flee.
The battle to help Latifa flee Dubai continues through legal battles, UN examinations, and police and FBI investigations. Each week, more and more people learn of Latifa’s plight, millions are added to the list every day, and Latifa’s inspiration has encouraged other women across the Middle East to flee, such as Rahaf Al Qunun and the Saudi sister Dua and Dalal. Yet Latifa continues to languish in what she describes as “hell”.
In May 2019, the attention of the world again fell on missing Latifa as it was reported that Princess Haya how now fled Dubai herself after finding out the truth about how Princess Latifa has been mistreated and abused and feared the same would happen to her.Princess Haya is on record as saying in January 2019 after the visit with Mary Robinson that “If I thought for a single second that any shred of this [the detention, torture and abuse of Princess Latifa] was true I wouldn’t put up with it or stand for it”. The fact that Princess Haya has herself now fled with her children from the UAE bears testament to the conditions under which Princess Latifa is in fact being held in the UAE, the ways she has been tortured and mistreated, and the grave risks she still faces.
In August 2019 following legal moves in the UK by Latifa’s father to force Princess Haya’s children to return to Dubai, Princess Haya issued two applications in the UK Family Court seeking a non-molestation order and non-forced marriage order against Latia’s father. The Case is set to be heard in November 2019.
In September 2019 Latifa’s legal team led by Alun Jones QC and Rodney Dixon QC submitted crucial new evidence to the investigated bodies at the UN. On the invitation of the UN Rodney Dixon QC, Tiina Jauhiainen and David Haigh gave evidence to the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary disappearances at the Human Rights Council, where the UN was called upon to require the UAE immediately release Latifa
In the time since Latifa was kidnapped by her father’s security forces, millions of people around the world have heard her story, in her own words. If you haven’t seen it, take the time to watch the remarkable video she made, in which she lays bare the reality of her life. She may live in a palace, but her account makes it clear that freedom of self-determination can be violated regardless of riches.
If you’d like to know more about Latifa’s case and the quest to free her, see these links:
The press statement of the Guernica Group regarding the UN’s request about the case to the UAE.
And if you would like to help our campaign, please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Legalaction and the United Nations complaint
Ground-breaking legal and advocacy work that has already achieved an unprecedented step by the UAE
One of the most important pillars of Latifa’s campaign is our legal fight for her freedom.
The unprecedented illegal acts of the UAE and India required ground-breaking and fast acting legal and advocacy work. Our legal team instigated criminal, civil and intergovernmental legal action across the world in the United Nations, Metropolitan Police (London), Cambridgeshire Police, the FBI and elsewhere, as well as civil actions in the US, UK and India. Our work in the United Nations, and the support of it from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and many other human rights groups, forced the UAE to respond to our complaint in December 2018 – an unprecedented step for the UAE.
“It is a matter of grave concern that Princess Latifa has suffered from abduction, mistreatment and arbitrary imprisonment, with no opposition or protest from the UK authorities. Do we stand for the rule of law or not? “ Alun Jones QC. July 2019 – Lawyer to Latifa Al Maktoum
Latifa appointed David Haigh and Tiina Jauhiainen to assist and represent her in February 2018. The legal team is managed by headed by Alun Jones QC and Rodney Dixon QC and managed by David Haigh and includes many other lawyers and other professionals.
Within hours of the attack on the Nostromo, David Haigh had contacted not just Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, but the leading human rights barristers Toby Cadman and Alun Jones, a fast response that enabled the team to get Latifa’s case before the United Nations within days of the attack.
In 2018, David Haigh appointed Toby Cadman of Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers to head the legal team and act on behalf of Sheikha Latifa, and the Nostromo crew, in seeking justice and Latifa’s freedom.
“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.” Rodney Dixon QC July 2019– Lawyer to Latifa AL Maktoum.
In early 2019, David Haigh took over certain aspects of the legal work from Toby Cadman, including representing Latifa and Tiina in front of the United Nations before appointing Alun Jones QC and Rodney Dixon in July 2019.