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UN very concerned over fate of ‘missing’ Dubai royal

The UN said Friday it was “very concerned” for Dubai’s Sheikha Latifa, two months after having asked the United Arab Emirates for proof that the royal was still alive.

Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum (L) having a meal with Mary Robinson, former Irish president
Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum (L) having a meal with Mary Robinson, former Irish president

In February, the United Nations Human Rights Office asked for evidence about the daughter of Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, after the BBC broadcast a video shot by Latifa saying she was being held captive and feared for her life.

Sheikh Mohammed is the vice president and prime minister of the UAE, of which Dubai is one of the seven emirates.

His 35-year-old daughter has not been seen in public since a foiled attempt to escape from the emirate in March 2018.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spoke to the UAE’s diplomatic mission in Geneva in a bid for evidence that she was still alive.

“We asked her family to give us proof of life and so far we haven’t received any,” spokeswoman Marta Hurtado told reporters in Geneva.

We would like… clear, compelling evidence that she is alive.”

Hurtado said the office was now assessing “a number of possible options”.

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It has been trying to set up a meeting between senior human rights officials and UAE’s new ambassador in Geneva and while the mission has accepted the request in principle, no date has yet been fixed.

“Ideally, of course, we would like to meet her, to talk to her freely, alone and to examine all the aspects of her situation,” said Hurtado.

– Concerns for sister too –

If the meeting with the ambassador takes place, the rights office also wishes to raise the case of Latifa’s older sister Sheikha Shamsa and ask about her whereabouts.

Shamsa disappeared from the British city of Cambridge in 2000.

An English court ruled last year that Sheikh Mohammed orchestrated her forcible return home.

“We are very concerned about both cases because we don’t know what is happening. That’s why we are not only asking where they are but we want to meet them, we want to speak with them,” Hurtado said.

“We want to understand what is the situation, as is the case not only with these two women but other cases of people that have disappeared, maybe forcibly disappeared across the globe.”

The BBC said the clips it broadcast were filmed roughly a year after Latifa was captured and returned to Dubai, showing her crouched in a corner of what she says is a bathroom.

The undated videos were aired as Latifa’s friends voiced concern that they are no longer receiving secret messages from her, the BBC reported.

In a statement in February, Dubai’s royal family insisted that Latifa was being “cared for at home”.

“We are hopeful she will return to public life at the appropriate time,” it said. AFP