The United Nations’ human rights body is investigating newly released videos in which a daughter of Dubai’s ruler claims to be held “hostage” — while the UK on Wednesday demanded proof that she is still alive.
Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum, 35, used a phone smuggled to her in her “villa jail” to beg for help in messages released to the BBC after her supporters lost contact about six months ago.
“I’m a hostage … I am worried about my safety and my life,” whispered Latifa, thought to be one of around 30 children Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has with numerous women.
“I don’t really know if I’m going to survive this situation,” she said in one of the clips aired by the BBC’s “Panorama” Tuesday night.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said it would “raise these new developments with the UAE,” where Sheikh Mohammed, 71, serves as prime minister and vice president.
“Other parts of the UN human rights system with relevant mandates may also become 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 there had been no word from Latifa since then.
“I fear they caught her with the phone and now I am fearful for her safety,” he said.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called the videos “very distressing” and called for proof that the princess was still alive.
“It’s deeply troubling and you can see a young woman under deep distress,” Raab told ITV, supporting the UN probe.
“Given what we’ve just seen, I think people would just at a human level want to see that she’s alive and well.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his administration would monitor the probe. “That’s something obviously that we are concerned about but the UN Commission on Human Rights is looking at that,” he said. “I think what we’ll do is wait and see how they get on. We’ll keep an eye on that.”
Amnesty International called the videos “chilling” and said it was “extremely concerned for her safety.”
Rodney Dixon, a London-based attorney for Sheikha Latifa, called on Dubai to “do the right thing.”
“Release the princess,” he said.
A support group, Free Latifa, said that the princess has been held hostage by her father ever since she was captured trying to flee Dubai in 2018.
Before Tuesday, the only time she had been seen since she was brought back to Dubai was when her family released photos of her sitting with Mary Robinson, a former Irish president and a United Nations high commissioner for human rights, in late 2018.
But Robinson told the BBC she had been “horribly tricked” into posing for the photos, and did not ask Latifa about her plight because she was assured she had a mental illness.
Sheikh Mohammed and the Dubai royal court have said Latifa is safe in 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 Post wires