On March 4th 2018, Nostromo, an American registered yacht off the coast of Goa, India was reportedly boarded amidst gunfire, and everyone onboard including a French American, a Finnish citizen, and a member of the Dubai royal family, disappeared. Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum, who claimed to be “escaping” from the UAE after years of abuse, called Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai from the boat in a panic, saying that there were men outside the bathroom in which she was hiding with her friend Tiina, and that she had heard gunshots. That was the last time anyone ever heard from her.
According to Herve Jaubert, the owner and captain of the yacht, and the man who was helping Latifa flee the UAE, the boat was approximately 50 miles off the Goan coast. Following Latifa’s final message, Jaubert, an American citizen, has also disappeared. Latifa’s friend Tiina, of Finland, is also missing. Detained in Dubai, as well as the families of Hervé and Tiina have filed missing persons reports for all those known to have been on the boat when the incident occurred.
Obviously, the hostile boarding of an American registered vessel is a serious security issue, particularly when the fate of those aboard remains unknown. No one onboard was involved in any criminal activity; there was nothing illegal about the ship’s voyage and they were unarmed. Therefore, any aggression against the vessel, its crew, or its passengers constitutes an act of piracy.
Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, commented, “As per Article 100 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) “[a]ll States shall cooperate to the fullest possible extent in the repression of piracy on the high seas or in any other place outside the jurisdiction of any State.” As Herve Jaubert’s vessel was off the coast of Goa, it would have been the Indian Coast Guard’s responsibility to respond to a distress signal from the boat. However, until now, no enquiries have been made by the Indian government into the incident.
“We call upon the Indian authorities to investigate the disappearance of the Nostromo, and the fate of its missing passengers and crew. We request full transparency and the public release of all information pertaining to the activities of the Indian Coast Guard on March 4th, in the vicinity of the missing vessel. And we ask for the authorities to cooperate in all ways possible to assist in finding Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum, Hervé Jaubert, and her friend Tiina.”
All relevant authorities have been aware of the incident for two weeks now and have not yet issued a response or launched a search and rescue. Why?
The public is asking #WhereisNostromo? #WhereisHervé? #WhereisLatifa? #WhereisTiina? And demanding authorities assist to #FindNostromo #FindLatifa #FindHervé & #FindTiina
Escape from Dubai has been set up in response to the incident to appeal for any information that may help answer these questions.
On Sunday the 4th of March, Ms Stirling was advised by Hervé at 11:00 GMT that the vessel was within 50 miles of India and that they intended to disembark. At 18:24 GMT, Ms. Stirling received a distress message, followed by a distress call from the woman who appeared in a panicked and frightened state. She stated "Radha, please help. There are men outside. I hear gunshots and I am hiding with my friend".
Following the distress call, communication with all of the missing persons ceased. Having had communication with the missing person previously, and following the distress call, Detained in Dubai alerted the relevant authorities. Detained in Dubai further sought the assistance of leading human rights Barristers and Queen's Counsel together with the assistance of several leading human rights charities with which Detained in Dubai works.
Detained in Dubai filed a police report with the Metropolitan police, the UAE Embassy in the UK, the United States State Department and the Coast Guard of India. The only authority who has responded is the United Kingdom who have forwarded the report to the National Crime Agency and Interpol for investigation.
Since the incident, parties who had known the missing persons have confirmed their identity and last known location. Close friends have confirmed that the woman in the video was indeed Sheikha Latifa. The woman explained that there are three Sheikha Latifa’s and that she was the middle one known for sky diving, with the instagram account latifa_1.
Two US attorneys confirmed that they were aware of the situation and had been contacted by American and French national and Florida resident Hervé Jaubert, a client of theirs, who was also known to them. They have since prepared a missing persons report.
The @MailOnline broke the news on Friday and showed part of a video where the woman explains some of the reasons for her escape attempt. The video was provided to a US attorney by Latifa for distribution in the event of her death or disappearance. The video extends for around 40 minutes and makes claims that she was "imprisoned, tortured, beaten and censored” as well as going onto name those involved and setting out various potential crimes. That video was provided to the authorities and legal advisors. The full video has since been published on YouTube by a variety of sources.
Radha Stirling, who was the last party to speak with the missing persons said "We are very concerned for the safety of the missing persons. We have already been inundated with calls and emails and evidence that assist us and the authorities. We appeal to anyone for any information that could be helpful to please get in touch with us. We would also like to appeal to anyone that can assist with the search. Lawyers, Human rights organisations, friends, family or even the General public.
The missing persons requested our assistance and instructed us to assist them in in the event of their arrest or disappearance, which we are now doing. We are liaising with authorities, leading human rights lawyers and human rights organisations.
We are seeking response from US, British, Indian and UAE authorities on this incident. A US national and his American registered boat have gone missing, as well as Sheikha Latifa, with Indian intelligence suggesting that they are now in the custody of UAE authorities against their will."