UN advisers tell UAE to release Princess Latifa

‘Continued incommunicado detention can have harmful physical and psychological consequences,’ say independent experts

Jon Sharman
Tuesday 20 April 2021 17:53
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Princess Latifa says she is ‘hostage in villa-prison’

UN advisers have demanded that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) release Princess Latifa, the daughter of Dubai’s ruler who has claimed she is being held hostage.

They also said the country should provide more information about her condition, two months after the princess resurfaced in videos broadcast by the BBC.

“I’m a hostage, I’m not free. I am prisoned in this jail. My life is not in my hands,” she said in the footage. Latifa also said she had been held in solitary confinement following an attempt to escape Dubai in 2018.

The UAE said in mid-February that she was being cared for at home after Michelle Bachelet, the UN human rights chief, asked for proof she was alive. Ms Bachelet’s office had not received this proof by early April.

On Tuesday, experts contracted as independent advisers to the UN by its Human Rights Council said in a statement: "We are alarmed that, following the public release in February of footage in which Sheikha Latifa reported being deprived of her liberty against her will, and the subsequent official request for further information on her situation, no concrete information has been provided by the authorities.”

They added: "The statement issued by the [Emirati] authorities merely indicating that she was being ‘cared for at home’ is not sufficient at this stage."

The group includes the UN investigators on torture and on violence against women.

The Independent has contacted Dubai’s government for comment.

Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum, 35, drew international attention in 2018 when a human rights group released a video made by her in which she described an attempt to escape Dubai. She was captured when special forces raided a boat off the coast of India and took her back to the country.

Since then UN experts have raised concerns with the Emirati government about her "alleged enforced disappearance and incommunicado detention", they said in Tuesday's statement.

"Her continued incommunicado detention can have harmful physical and psychological consequences and may amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment," they said.

Additional reporting by agencies

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