The United Nations has once again called on the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to provide information and convincing proof that the daughter of Dubai's ruler is alive, after two pictures emerged purportedly showing her in public.
Princess Latifa Al Maktoum drew international attention in 2018 when she announced in a video that she was fleeing the UAE because of mistreatment and restrictions imposed by her family.
Back in February, 35-year-old Sheikha Latifa, the daughter of Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, said in a video broadcast by the BBC’s investigative news program Panorama that she was being held “hostage” in a locked villa surrounded by police. The UN human rights office then asked for evidence about her life.
In the video, she said commandos drugged her as she fled by boat and flew her back to detention. Contact from her has since stopped.
Two pictures were published on an unverified Instagram account this week, purporting to show Latifa in a restaurant and in a shopping mall in Dubai.
Reacting to the developments, Rupert Colville, the spokesman for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told reporters on Tuesday in Geneva that the UAE had declined to comment on the Instagram pictures.
“The government of the United Arab Emirates has been engaging with us on both diplomatic and government levels on a number of occasions over recent weeks and that engagement continues,” Colville said.
“They have told us they will provide convincing proof of life in the case of Latifa. So we're essentially awaiting their next step in this respect and will carefully examine any proposal that emerges.”
“In terms of the photographs that emerged in the last few days, we don't really have any comment to make on those at this point,” the spokesman said. “We haven't received them ourselves and have not been able to examine them.”
In February, Dubai's royal family in a statement insisted that Latifa was being “cared for at home.”
“We are hopeful she will return to public life at the appropriate time,” they said.
Sheikh Mohammed is the vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is one of the seven emirates.
The UN says the UAE has failed to provide compelling proof that Sheikha Latifa was still alive.
On April 9, UN spokesperson Marta Hurtado told a briefing in Geneva that the UAE had not responded to its request or clarified the conditions in which Latifa was apparently being held.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) cited a witness as saying that authorities in the UAE had “intercepted Sheikha Latifa on March 4, 2018, as she tried to flee by sea to a third country, and returned her to the UAE.”