I’m hostage I’m not free. I am imprisoned in this prison. My life is not in my hands, Latifa says in a video, which her friends say was one of the numbers she sent after a 2018 incident in which she was caught by commandos on a yacht near India.
I have been here since then, for more than a year, in isolation. No access to medical care, no trial, no charges, nothing, says the 35-year-old at another point in the filming. Every day I worry about my safety and the police threaten me that I will never see the sun again. I’m not sure here.
Latifa says the videos were shot in the bathroom of a villa, as it was the only room in the complex with a lock. The footage was broadcast on Tuesday by BBC Panorama. The BBC said that Latifas’s friend and former capoeira martial arts instructor, Tiina Jauhiainen, had helped get a phone call from the King of Dubai so that she could communicate.
Her friends say Latifa has stopped sending secret video messages recently, according to BBC Panorama. In a statement to the BBC following the release of the videos, a spokesman for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said this would raise the issue with the UAE government.
We will certainly increase these new developments with the UAE, said Rupert Colville. Other parts of the UN mandated human rights system may also be included after analyzing the new material.
The BBC said it had independently confirmed the location of the villa, which it said was guarded by 30 rotating police officers, but the organization said it was unclear if the princess was still there.
The Washington Post has not independently verified the content of the videos, including when and where they were filmed. The UAE Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The footage is likely to spark a new outcry over the fate of Latifa, who had released a video in March 2018 claiming she was being held against her will by her family and facing torture. Latifa is the daughter of Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who serves as the ruler of the Emirate of Dubai and the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates.
They will not bring me back alive, Latifa said in the 2018 video. That will not happen. If I do not make it alive, at least theres this video.
In interviews with The Post at the time, a woman who claimed to have visited Latifa said the princess had left her father and was restricted from traveling freely both inside and outside the country, but that she had not mentioned any physical abuse. The woman spoke on condition of anonymity because she feared retribution from Dubai rulers.
At the time the first video was released, activist groups representing Latifa said she had already tried to escape from captivity on a yacht on which she was traveling eavesdropping in international waters near India by an unknown but heavily armed.
Maktoum later described the action as a rescue mission and suggested that those who had helped his daughter in her escape offer, including Jauhiaine and French businessman Herv Jaubert, were trying to extort money from his family.
Of course a financial request was made to us. We feared that our daughter was in the hands of a criminal who could hold her to reward and harm her, the ruler of Dubai said in a statement in a British court during a separate child custody case.
In the episode that aired on Tuesday, BBC Panorama also spoke former UN Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, who had visited Latifa in 2018 and later described her as a young woman with problems who regretted her attempt to escape. Photos of the visit were later released by UAE officials.
Robinson told the BBC that she was not fully aware of the situation and that she had been deceived by another Dubai king with whom she was friendly, Princess Haya Bint Hussein, who said Latifa had a rather serious bipolar problem.
I continue to be very concerned about Latifa. Things have moved forward. And so I think it should be investigated, Robinson, a former president of Ireland, told the BBC.
Haya, the 45-year-old daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan, had been one of Maktoums’ wives and stepmother in Latifa before moving to Britain with her two children. She entered a bitter international custody battle in 2019 with the Emir of Dubai in a London court, seeking a protection order and a non-abuse order for one of her children.
The court sided with Haya last year and released fact-finding trials who said Maktoum had ordered the capture and return of Latifa in 2018 and during a previous escape attempt in 2002. The court also found that he had ordered the 2000 abduction of another UAE princess from Britain.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also commented on Latifa’s footage on Wednesday, telling the BBC they were deeply disturbed and appeared to be showing a woman in deep anxiety. Raab said the British government would support the United Nations if it pursued the issue.
Repeated accusations by female members of the Dubai royal family have shaken the reputation of Maktoum, who took absolute control of the emirate in 2006 and helped build its status as a high-profile international business and entertainment center.
The Emir of Dubai has many wives and is believed to have several dozen children.
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