The recent photographs of Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum published by Sky News on 24 December 2018 are, if verified, a welcome development. However, a number of serious questions still remain as to Sheikha Latifa’s whereabouts, her overall well-being and whether she remains detained all appear to be at issue and unanswered by the official statement of the United Arab Emirates.
The question remains as to why the United Arab Emirates waited nine months before responding and until now failed to engage with the United Nations investigating Sheikha Latifa’s disappearance.
It is curious timing that following a highly critical BBC documentary the UAE authorities seek to silence further comment by terming this a private family matter and seeking to silence those other persons that were detained, beaten and subsequently forced to sign false confessions.
Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers and the wider team look forward to confirmation from the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Mary Robinson, and further awaits further engagement from the United Arab Emirates in relation to this matter.
Sky News has today, 24 December 2018, published a series of photographs purporting to show Sheikha Latifa meeting with Ms. Mary Robinson, the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and former President of Ireland.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has released a statement along with the photographs, stating that the meeting took place on 15 December 2018, and further, that they have been released to rebut ‘false allegations’.
Guernica 37 and the wider legal team welcome this development, if verified, and welcome the news that Sheikha Latifa is alive. There remains very serious concerns as to her state of health and whether she continues to be detained against her will. These serious questions remain unanswered.
In the first instance, and prior to commenting further at this stage, it is fully anticipated that Ms. Robinson confirms that the meeting took place, and further, confirms the circumstances of that meeting, along with the general well-being of Sheikha Latifa. It is further expected that the UN Working Group tasked with investigating her disappearance also comments on the recent submissions of the UAE.
It is noted with some concern that Ms. Robinson has thus far not commented official on the purported visit nor has she sought to communicate with those other persons who are alleged to have been unlawfully detained and beaten in an unprecedented miliarty attack in internaitonal waters in March of this year.
It is noted that the UAE has thus far, refused to engage with the United Nations and its associated investigation, up until the 21 December 2018 where the Government states that its mission delivered a ‘communique’ to the Special Procedures Office.
The Government of the United Arab Emirates has not addressed why it has taken some nine months for the issue to be addressed, or why it has taken some nine months for there to be confirmation of Sheikha Latifa’s whereabouts.
Further, and of significant concern, the Government of the United Arab Emirates and the Court of the Ruler of Dubai have thus far refused to address the circumstances of Sheikha Latifa’s detention, along with the detention of those others on board the Nostromo when it was allegedly unlawfully attacked by the UAE military, and the Indian Coastguard; nor has there been any comment concerning the allegations of torture made by at least two of those passengers, Mr. Herve Jaubert, and Ms. Tiina Jauhiainen. These serious allegations that are supported by credible and reliable evidence remain unanswered and must be addressed. All persons responsible for such acts must be held accountable before a Court of Law and not merely brushed aside as a ‘private family matter’.
Accordingly, therefore, the news released today, if verified, is welcomed, however, it remains incumbent upon the Government of the UAE to address the wider issues in relation to this matter, including the very serious allegations levied at its security forces.
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Guernica37 International Justice Chambers in London, the non-profit organization Guernica Centre for International Justice in the United States and G37 Despacho Internacional in Madrid, form the Guernica Group. Our international team of lawyers specialize in International Criminal Law and strategic transnational litigation to obtain accountability for international crimes and human rights violations. The Guernica Group seeks to contribute to national processes of accountability by designing legal strategies in partnership with key actors in countries experiencing transitional processes after conflict or post-conflict situations.