U.N. rights experts demand release of Dubai ruler's daughter

Stephanie Nebehay
·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Prime Minister and Vice-President of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum attends the Global Women's Forum in Dubai

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) - U.N. experts on Tuesday demanded that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) provide information about a daughter of Dubai's ruler and release her, two months after the BBC aired a video it said was of Princess Latifa describing herself as a hostagein a villa.

The UAE said on Feb. 19 that Sheikha Latifa was being cared for at home, after the U.N. human rights office headed by Michelle Bachelet asked it for proof that she is alive amid growing international concern about her fate.

“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,” the independent U.N. human rights experts said in joint statement.

“The statement issued by the Emirates authorities’ merely indicating that she was being ‘cared for at home’ is not sufficient at this stage,” added the experts, who include the U.N. investigators on torture and on violence against women.

The joint statement said the experts called "for independent verification of the conditions under which she is being held, and for her immediate release."

UAE authorities did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

A spokeswoman for Bachelet's office said earlier this month it had not received a requested "proof of life" for Sheikha Latifa from the United Arab Emirates.

Senior U.N. officials sought a meeting with the UAE ambassador in Geneva about Latifa, which in principle has been agreed, the spokeswoman said at the time.

The fate of Latifa, 35, and her tempestuous relationship with her father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who is also a vice-president of the UAE, has cast a new spotlight on his family affairs.

Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum 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 off the coast of India after an operation by special forces and taken back to Dubai.

Since then U.N. 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.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, Editing by William Maclean)