Britain has demanded the UAE proves Princess Latifa is still alive after she released a series of haunting videos saying she was being kept prisoner in Dubai.
Dominic Raab said people ‘will want to see that she is alive and well’ after Latifa described in secretly recorded videos how she has been locked in a villa without access to sunlight or fresh air while under constant police guard.
The Foreign Secretary 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.
The princess, daughter of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, claims she has been detained in the UAE since a failed escape attempt in 2018.
Latifa recorded the videos over several weeks in 2019 and sent them to her best friend Tiina Jauhiainen, who released them to the BBC and MailOnline to draw attention to her friend’s plight.
Tiina says she is worried for the royal’s safety because she has not spoken to her for nine months.
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
Tiina said her last communication with the princess was in August when she believes her phone was confiscated – and claimed that the UAE security services had been ‘bugging’ the phone she used to talk with Latifa.
Speaking from her home in Finland, Tiina said: ‘Now is the time for world leaders to speak out. We are very hopeful that we can find out what has happened to Latifa and secure her freedom.
‘The Queen is a close friend of the Sheikh. She must now be aware of what he is doing to his daughter and we would welcome her intervention.
‘People have to speak up. The United Nations must take some action as this is a clear human rights abuse.
‘This cannot go on forever. There has to be something done so that Latifa can be free.’
Princess Latifa and her best friend Tiina Jauhiainen pose for a selfie on the road to Oman on the first leg of their journey in 2018. Tiina says she is worried for the princess’s welfare because she has not heart from her in nine months when she assumes her phone was confiscated
Tiina, who helped the princess escape Dubai in 2018 before she was captured and returned to her father eight days later added: ‘Latifa hasn’t been in contact for nine months. I am guessing they discovered the phone and took it off her
‘The Finnish intelligence service recently told me that my mobile phone calls were being intercepted,’ she said.
‘I had long thought that I was being monitored and was advised to get a new phone. There is only one country that would be doing that.’
Tiina said she wanted world leaders, including Boris Johnson and new US President Joe Biden, to speak up about Latifa’s imprisonment.
Mr Johnson did speak out on Wednesday to call the developments ‘concerning’ and add: ‘The United Nations Commission on Human Rights is looking at that.
‘I think what we’ll do is wait and see how they get on. We’ll keep an eye on.’
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.’
Latifa has been held in Dubai since 2018 after a failed escape attempt. The last time she was seen alive was in December that year, when she was pictured alongside former UN high commissioner for human rights Mary Robinson (above)
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.’
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
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.