The United Nations human rights body is investigating recently released videos in which a daughter of the Dubai ruler claims to be a “hostage”, while the United Kingdom on Wednesday demanded proof that she is still alive.
Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum, 35, used a phone that had been smuggled to him from his “village jail” to request help in messages sent to the BBC after his supporters lost contact about six months ago.
“I am a hostage … I am concerned for my safety and my life,” whispered Latifa, who is believed to be one of 30 children that the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has with numerous women.
“I really don’t know if I’m going to survive this situation,” he said in one of the clips broadcast by the BBC’s “Panorama” on Tuesday night.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said it would “raise these new developments with the United Arab Emirates,” where 71-year-old Sheikh Mohammed serves as prime minister and vice president.
“Other parts of the UN human rights system with relevant mandates may also get involved once they have analyzed the new material or received specific allegations,” spokesman Rupert Colville told the BBC.
Marcus Essabri, one of Latifa’s cousins who lives in England, told the BBC that the videos stopped about six months ago and that there had been no news from Latifa since.
“I’m afraid she was caught on the phone and now I’m afraid for her safety,” he said.
British Chancellor Dominic Raab called the videos “Very distressing” and asked for proof that the princess was still alive.
“It is deeply disturbing and you can see a young woman in deep anguish,” Raab told ITV, supporting the UN investigation.
“Given what we just saw, I think people would want to see that she is alive and well on a human level.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his administration would oversee the investigation. “That is something that obviously worries us, but the UN Commission on Human Rights is looking at that,” he said. “I think what we will do is wait and see how they do. We will keep an eye on it. “
Amnesty International called the videos “chilling” and said they were “extremely concerned for his safety”.
Rodney Dixon, a lawyer for Sheikha Latifa based in London, called on Dubai to “do the right thing.”
“Release the princess,” he said.
A support group, Free Latifa, said the princess has been held hostage by her father since she was caught trying to flee Dubai in 2018.
Before Tuesday, the only time they had seen her since they took her back to Dubai was when her family posted photos of her sitting with Mary Robinson, a former Irish President and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, late of 2018.
But Robinson told the BBC that she had been “horribly tricked” into posing for photos and did not ask Latifa about her plight because she was assured that she had a mental illness.
Sheikh Mohammed and the royal court of Dubai have said that Latifa is safe under the loving care of her family. The UAE government’s Dubai Media Office did not respond to a request for comment, The Associated Press said.
With pole cables