DUBAI (Dispatches) – UN human rights experts called on the United Arab Emirates to disclose the whereabouts of Princess Latifa two months after the BBC released a video showing the Dubai ruler’s daughter saying she was being held hostage by her father.
A joint statement by UN human rights experts, including investigators on torture and violence against women, called for Latifa’s immediate release, verification on her whereabouts and details on the conditions of where she is being held.
"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 UN experts said in a joint statement on Tuesday.
"The statement issued by the Emirates authorities merely indicating that she was being ‘cared for at home’ is not sufficient at this stage.”
The joint statement comes after the UN said it sought a meeting with the UAE’s ambassador over the condition of Dubai’s Princess Latifa and her sister Shamsa, a UN spokeswoman said last Friday.
UN human rights spokeswoman Marta Hurtado said at a briefing in Geneva that the organization was "very worried” about the plight of the women, according to AFP, adding that a meeting between senior UN officials had in principle been agreed.
She added that the UN still hasn’t received evidence that Latifa, the daughter of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, is alive, despite asking the UAE in February.
Back in February, 35-year-old Sheikha Latifa said in a video broadcast by the BBC’s investigative news program Panorama that she was being held "hostage” in a locked villa surrounded by police.
"I am a hostage and this villa has been converted into a jail,” she said at the time. "All the windows are barred shut, I can’t open any window.”
The UAE princess said she was making the video in the bathroom of the villa, which is the only room she could lock herself into.
Appearing alert and speaking calmly, Latifa said in the video that there were police officers stationed outside and inside the villa. "I just want to be free,” she noted.
Princess Latifa drew international attention in 2018, when she announced in a video that she was fleeing the UAE because of mistreatment and restrictions imposed by her family.
However, a source close to the Dubai government said on April 17 that year that the runaway princess "was brought back” to the Persian Gulf state.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) cited a witness as saying that authorities in the UAE had "intercepted Sheikha Latifa on March 4, 2018, as she tried to flee by sea to a third country, and returned her to the UAE.”