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Guernica 37 Press Statement on the Disappearance of Sheikha Latifa bint Mohamed al Maktoum

Updated: Dec 7, 2018

For Immediate Release 5 December 2018

The Legal Team from Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers expresses concern at the official statement from the Office of the Ruler of Dubai, United Arab Emirates released today despite the fact that the fate and whereabouts of Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al Maktoum remains unknown

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) finally breaks its silence on the arbitrary arrest and enforced disappearance of Her Royal Highness, Princess Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al Maktoum, and issued a statement on the eve of a BBC documentary into her disappearance. Regrettably, it offers no explanation as to why she felt compelled to release a lengthy video begging for help, why individuals who helped her in her plight were arbitrarily detained and tortured for their involvement in her escape, nor do they offer any explanation as to why she has remained hidden from the view of the public, but also from her friends since her detention in international waters off the coast of Goa by the Indian Coastguards and naval forces of the United Arab Emirates.

The statement issued by the public relations office of the Court of the Ruler of Dubai offers no explanation as to its silence since March 2018, its refusal to engage in the investigation conducted by the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance or the requests for information by Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International.

Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers is instructed to act on behalf of Sheikha Latifa, the other victims and those that were appointed by Sheikha Latifa to assist her, David Haigh and Radha Stirling, and has sought information related to the alleged incident, but has received no information to date. The statement issued today fails to respond to the very serious allegations that have been made nor does it indicate that the persons who may bear individual criminal responsibility will be investigated and where evidence is identified, held accountable before a court of law.

On or about 4 March 2018, Sheikha Latifa was detained on a US-flagged yacht, the Nostromo, as she was in the process of escaping what she considered the oppressive and authoritarian influence of her father’s regime.

Video and voice recordings of Latifa have previously been released, in which she outlines how she has lived her life as a prisoner, in that she is not allowed to be free to make her own decisions, free to go where she wishes, and is constantly under the rule of an authoritarian regime which dictates every element of her life.

Immediately prior to her being detained on the Nostromo, she sent a message in which she said “Please help. Please please there are men outside, I don’t know what is happening”. This was followed by a voice call.

The suggestion in the recent statement released by the ‘Dubai Ruler’s Court’, that an individual who assisted in her escape and was subsequently detained and tortured as a result, Mr. Herve Jaubert, “demanded payment of a ransom of USD $100 million…for her return”, is as absurd as it is nonsensical. There is no basis for what is very clearly a defamatory statement aimed at discrediting those involved in exposing what happened to Sheikha Latifa and the other persons aboard the Nostromo.

The true position is that Sheikha Latifa has not been heard from for some nine-months, and it is not merely a coincidence that on the eve of a BBC documentary into her disappearance, and credible allegations, supported by eye witness and other evidence of the involvement of UAE and Indian authorities into events that have been described as an unlawful military intervention in international waters, a statement has been issued.

No statement has been issued previously, despite the UAE being pressed for an explanation on a number of occasions, by individuals, by lawyers, and by the United Nations; on each and every occasion, the UAE, and specifically, the Court of the Ruler of Dubai, has remained silent and refused to engage in any process.

There may not be an intention to make any further statement on the matter, but, that statement issued does not address the credible allegations made by Sheikha Latifa and her emotional pleas for safety, it does not address why a young woman was seen to be in abject fear, it does not address why she was unlawfully detained in international waters, it does not address why five foreign nationals with her were also detained and tortured, it does not address and finally, it does not explain why Sheikha Latifa has not been seen, or heard from since her detention.

If it is that Sheikha Latifa is with her family, and that this is a family matter for which she seeks no public concern, then why is she prevented from communicating this publicly, or to any individual that she considers to be a friend.

If the allegations made on her behalf have no credibility in fact or law, then why has it taken nine months for the authorities to respond and why have those persons that seek to defend her rights including David Haigh and Radha Stirling been continuously attacked since her disappearance, attacks now the subject of several UK police investigations.

The statement of 5 December 2018 is merely a public relations exercise given the significant audience that the coming programme is likely to attract, it does not address any of the allegations made.

The only conclusion that can be drawn, is that Sheikha Latifa remains detained against her will.

- ENDS -


Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers

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