Britain demands UAE proves ruler's daughter Princess Latifa is alive

Britain demands the UAE proves ruler’s daughter Princess Latifa is still alive after smuggled videos revealed her ordeal as a prisoner

  • Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has called on UAE to prove jailed Princess Latifa is still alive after ‘concerning’ videos revealed her life in captivity 
  • He said the issue will be raised through the UN, and Britain will ‘watch closely’ 
  • But he refused to back sanctions, saying they cannot be applied ‘willy-nilly’
  • Latifa smuggled videos to friends starting in 2019, but contact was lost some time last year and her current whereabouts and condition are unknown

Britain has demanded the UAE prove ruler’s daughter Princess Latifa is alive after ‘concerning’ videos were released showing her captivity in Dubai. 

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said people ‘will want to see that she is alive and well’ after Princess Latifa described in smuggled videos how she has been locked in a villa without access to sunlight or fresh air while under constant police guard. 

Mr Raab said Latifa’s case will also be raised with the UAE at the UN and Britain will be ‘watching closely’, but stopped short of calling for sanctions. 

Princess Latifa, daughter of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has been detained in the UAE since a failed escape attempt in 2018.

She made contact with friends in 2019 and began smuggling videos to them until some time in 2020, when contact suddenly stopped. Her current whereabouts and condition are unknown.

Dominic Raab has demanded the UAE prove Princess Latifa, daughter of the ruler of Dubai, is alive after ‘concerning’ videos showed her in detention in a villa

Latifa appeared in videos that she smuggled to friends using a phone in which she described being locked in a villa without access to daylight or fresh air and under constant police guard 

Friends concerned for her safety released the videos on Tuesday in an attempt to pressure Al-Maktoum into releasing her.

The UN has said it will raise the issue of Latifa’s detention with the UAE, and could investigate once the videos have been analysed.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said it could question UAE officials about the princess’s situation.

If an investigation is launched, it would be led by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, a spokesman added.

Raab said the ‘proper course’ of action for Britain is to follow the developments from the United Nations ‘quite closely’.

‘I have always raised human-rights issues, I always do, with foreign ministers, with the ambassadors,’ he told Sky News.

‘I think the right thing given what the United Nations has said is to follow very closely, and we are obviously always supportive of, the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights.

‘I think that is the proper course right now, to follow those developments quite closely.’ 

But he said sanctions cannot be applied ‘willy-nilly’, when asked if actions such as freezing assets could be taken.

‘It’s not as simple as saying: ‘Well, we could apply sanctions,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

‘There is a very strict legal threshold… it’s not simply the case that we can willy-nilly, if you like, just slap sanctions on individuals.’

The Dubai government’s media office referred questions about the video to Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum’s law firm, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the video, published by the BBC, Latifa, 35, says: ‘I am a hostage and this villa has been converted into a jail.’

She said she was making the video in the bathroom of the villa, the only room she could lock herself into, adding: ‘All the windows are barred shut, I can’t open any window.’  

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.

Last March, a London High Court judge said he accepted as proved a series of allegations made by Sheikh Mohammed’s former wife, Princess Haya, in a legal battle, including that the sheikh ordered the abduction of Latifa. 

The sheikh’s lawyers rejected the allegations.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Latifa’s father, on Derby day at Epsom in 2017 with his estranged wife Princess Haya of Jordan who later fled the country in fear for her life

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