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Detained in Dubai & Guernica 37 response - Mary Robinson meeting with Sheikha Latifa fails to answer key concerns

Press Release   •   Dec 27, 2018 16:41 GMT

Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum with Mary Robinson

Statement of Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai

Anyone familiar with Princess Latifa’s story who listened to the BBC Radio interview today with Mary Robinson will be astonished at the extent to which Ms Robinson appeared to be reciting almost verbatim from Dubai’s script. What we heard today was Mary Robinson essentially reciting for BBC Radio listeners the content of the statement issued by the Dubai Ruler’s Court.

She had nothing to say about the charges Latifa made against her father, Sheikh Mohammed, in her video, only saying that Latifa, now again in her father’s custody, regretted having recorded it. She said nothing about Latifa’s having planned her escape for nearly a decade, nor anything about her previous escape attempt. She did not mention the escape and subsequent reported abduction of Latifa’s sister Shamsa. She said nothing about the illegal raid of Latifa’s boat in international waters, and the fact that she was screaming for asylum and begging to not be returned to the UAE. Ms Robinson simply repeated again and again from the official Dubai statement that Latifa is in the “loving care of her family” and that the whole issue is nothing more than a “family matter”.

Ms Robinson suggests that the circumstances of Latifa’s escape should be investigated, but not the allegations of torture and abuse which prompted her escape, nor did she suggest that the violent capture by the security forces of the UAE and India in international waters should be investigated. She stated that Latifa is currently under “psychiatric care”; Latifa has previously described this “care” to include forced medication that caused her sister Shamsa to be sedated to the point that her personality was crushed after she was abducted from the UK and forcibly brought back to Dubai.

Latifa phoned me on the night of her abduction, pleading for my help. Given what she has conveyed to me, this meeting in no way satisfies me that she is free from the abuse that she told me she had suffered for years.

What Ms Robinson has related of Latifa’s current condition is in line with exactly what we and Latifa would have anticipated; That the same lucid and determined woman seen in the video made prior to her escape, the same woman who trained for and planned a daring escape, the same woman that Tiina had come to know as strong, is now being presented as mentally disturbed and vulnerable and being provided with “psychiatric care”.

It is obvious to me that this meeting between Mary Robinson and Latifa, under the supervision of Princess Haya, one of Sheikh Mohammed’s wives; and indeed, Ms Robinson’s comments about the meeting, reveal nothing concrete about Latifa’s condition and serve only to promote Dubai’s attempt to avoid any serious enquiry. We are very happy that Latifa is alive, but are cognizant of the fact that she herself said that she would rather die than be returned to her father’s custody, and thus, continue to have grave concerns about her welfare. 

Radha@RadhaStirling.com +44 207 060 6900 

Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers statement (Word document attached)

On 24 December, Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers, and the wider legal team instructed to represent Sheikha Latifa, issued a statement following the Sky News release that Ms. Mary Robinson had met with Sheikha Latifa, and had confirmed that she was in good health and being looked after by her family.

Concern was expressed within that statement; however, no further comment was made as Mrs. Robinson had not confirmed the attendance or otherwise.

Mrs. Robinson has now appeared on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today Programme’ and confirmed the position, however, despite the assurances given, serious concerns are still held.

On 27 December 2018, Mrs. Mary Robinson, the former UN Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Ireland was interviewed on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, primarily on the basis of her work regarding Climate Change, and a book that she has recently authored.

Mrs. Robinson was, during that interview, asked a number of questions regarding Sheikha Latifa, and the photographs published.

Her position, is that Sheikha Latifa is a “vulnerable” and “troubled” young woman, and further, that she now “regrets” the video she published which has been seen countless times around the world, and details how she was effectively a prisoner in her own home, and how she has been subjected to systematic abuse by her father, the Ruler of Dubai.

Further, Mrs. Robinson goes on to say that she is now in receipt of psychiatric care, medication, and that she is in being looked after by her family.

With respect to Mrs. Robinson, this does not answer the pertinent questions in respect of this situation and is quite disappointing to see a person of Mrs. Robinson’s stature brushing over what are very serious complaints. This is not a private family matter, there are credible allegations that a number of individuals were unlawfully attacked in international waters, were unlawfully abducted, handcuffed, beaten and detained incommunicado for a lengthy period of time. Mrs. Robinson fails to address this point at all.

Further, it does not answer the questions raised surrounding her treatment that gave rise to escape attempt in the first instance, it does not answer the questions asked surrounding the boarding of the yacht the Nostromo, nor does it answer the questions raised concerning the treatment of those that should to assist Sheikha Latifa.

Mrs. Robinson appears to have spent a couple of hours with Sheikha Latifa, and despite having no formal medial or psychiatric training, has somehow diagnosed her condition and concluded that she is receiving appropriate treatment. It is unclear on what basis Mrs. Robinson considers herself qualified to do so.

Mrs. Robinson suggests that upon Sheikha Latifa boarding the Nostromo, a demand was made for $300 million (three hundred million US Dollars), of which $30 million (thirty million) was to be paid immediately.

This is an entirely new and wholly fabricated allegation, one that does not accord with the statement released by the Government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and one that is, with respect to Mrs. Robinson, and entirely without foundation and merely a manipulation of the position in an attempt to undermine the credibility of those that assisted Sheikha Latifa with her escape, individuals that were detained and tortured by the State Security Authorities of the UAE.

It is of note that no evidence has been provided that would either support the position advanced by Mrs. Robinson in respect of this matter, or the alternative position that has now been advanced by the Government of the UAE. Further, it does not account for how the authorities have declined to comment for nine months.

Mrs. Robinson states that she has spoken to the current UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Michelle Bachelet, and her predecessor, Mr. Zeid Ra-ad Al Hussein, about the situation, and accordingly, we would ask that both individuals confirm the position.

Further, Mrs. Robinson states in her interview that she has corresponded with the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, Mr. Ken Roth, about Sheikha Latifa, again therefore, we would request that Mr. Roth and Human Rights Watch confirm the position.

The reality of the matter is that a young woman, one who made the most serious of allegations against her own family, so serious that she felt that she had no other option but to organise a covert escape out of the country, has not been heard from or seen for a period of 9-months after being detained on a boat near the coast of India.

No explanation has been provided from either the Government of the UAE or the Government of India as to why a yacht in international waters, sailing under the flag of the United States, was boarded by armed forces and its occupants detained and beaten.

No explanation has been provided as to why a number of those on the boat were imprisoned and tortured.

No explanation has been provided as to why Sheikha Latifa has been hidden from view for 9-months, and even now, is prevented from speaking to anyone.

Mrs. Robinson therefore, and for that matter the Government of the UAE, have not assuaged any concerns that are held in respect of the situation or the position that Sheikha finds herself in.

Once again therefore, calls are made for the Government of the UAE to allow Sheikha Latifa to speak to her friends, and for her situation to be confirmed personally.

Further, calls are made of the Government of the UAE to explain as to why their unlawful actions were taken, specifically, the arbitrary detention of, and use of torture against, innocent civilians.

Toby Cadman: +44 78080 71111 tobyc@guernica37.org

UAE Criminal and Civil Justice Specialists.  Contact us on press@detainedindubai.org

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