I hope that Sheikha Shamsa and Sheikha Latifa are released soon…if they are still alive.

Mar 17, 2020 15:40 GMT

The Free Latifa campaign is ramping up the pressure on the ruler of Dubai following last week’s dramatic court judgement in London, with the princess’s legal team calling on the United Nations to “urgently intervene” to ensure her safety.

Princess Latifa is still held captive by her father in Dubai, but her high-powered legal team based in London have filed a 76-page submission to the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID).

The submission concludes, “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 ruling by Sir Andrew McFarlane at England’s High Court included the findings that Latifa was kidnapped in 2018 and her father, the ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, was not “open or honest” when trying to assure the world that Latifa was safe in his care.

Tiina Jauhiainen, the best friend of Latifa, and David Haigh, a human rights lawyer appointed by Princess Latifa and the co-founder of the Free Latifa campaign, together with Latifa’s wider legal team met with the WGEIDat their 120thsession in Geneva recently. The session saw Jauhiainen and Haigh give material new evidence to the working group relating to Latifa and her stepmothers Princess Haya and Sheikha Randa Al Banna.

Following the Geneva meeting, Latifa’s legal team, headed by leading international human rights lawyers Alun Jones QC and Rodney Dixon QC, filed a 76-page submission to WGEID and other UN agencies calling for the urgent intervention of the UN.

The WGEID was already investigating the legality of the storming of a US-registered yacht in the Indian Ocean on 4 March 2018 in which Emirati and Indian security forces captured Latifa and five other people, and forcibly took them back to Dubai. The other five on board were released, but Latifa has been held captive by her father, the ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, ever since.

After two years investigating the UAE’s treatment of Latifa – through a series of hearings to which Latifa’s lawyers and representatives of the Free Latifa campaign have contributed at every stage – the WGEID was close to ruling on the case. However, following the recent judgement at the family division of the British High Court in London, Jones and Dixon are asking the UN to consider evidence from the London hearing, which warrants that:

  • the WGEID’s investigation be given 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 be 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.

The submission also calls for the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to be part of the UN investigation alongside the WGEID.

Alun Jones 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 recognised 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 added “It is most concerning that despite the High Court judgment on 5 March 2020 finding that Princess Latifa had been kidnaped, and world-wide 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, which has been tested and proved in one of the most esteemed legal systems in the world, 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 few days since the London judgement, 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.”

The judge in the London case, 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.”

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.

“David had, within hours of the kidnap of Latifa and myself, enlisted the help of the barrister Toby Cadman, who was luckily at the UN working on David’s own UN complaints against the UAE at the time. Within days of the kidnap a press conference was given at the UN with Toby and David working around the clock to make a 22-page submission to the UN on 30 March 2018 calling for their urgent intervention.

“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 Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, to secure her safety and her freedom.”


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