Category: news

EXPOSE THE EXPO CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED

International campaign to expose Expo2020Dubai ‘launched as 70+ Human rights NGOs slam high-profile world fair while host nation systematically abuses human rights

LONDON , 1 October 2021 – 

A group of leading human rights non-governmental organisations has slammed the Expo 2020 Dubai which opens today, saying the world should not be dealing with a host country that systematically abuses human rights, including committing war crimes in Yemen and imprisoning UAE human rights campaigners who object to the state’s Human rights violation.

The world expo, delayed by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, runs until 31 March 2022, with 192 countries having confirmed participation. But the NGOs say the staging of the expo in Dubai is “hypocrisy” due to the human rights abuses perpetrated by the regime both within Dubai and in other states, and it means participants are breaching their corporate social responsibility policies or human rights legislation by taking part.

A letter signed by more than 70 organizations to the president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan calls on the Emirati authorities to “release all imprisoned human rights defenders and activists detained in violation of their right to freedom of expression, and to comply with international standards for prisoners, including by allowing regular family visits, access to healthcare and regular consultations with their lawyers, and ending the practice of holding them in solitary confinement.”

Human rights lawyer and campaigner David Haigh, who himself spent 22 months jailed without charge in Dubai and today heads up the advocacy and assistance NGO Detained International, said, “All the sweet words about tolerance, respecting human rights and basic decency that come from the words of politicians and company CEOs mean nothing when they take part in this sham of a trade fair.

“There are innocent campaigners being held in Dubai jails whose only crime is to have highlighted the regime’s human rights abuses, and the ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has been found guilty in foreign courts of serious human rights abuses, in addition to kidnapping two of his daughters, one from UK soil. Yet the world continues to turn a blind eye – participants at Expo 2020 Dubai are dancing on the graves of those murdered by the state and on remnants of the lives of those being held without trial in squalid prisons.”

Detained International has today launched a 6-month campaign “#ExposeTheExpo” – to highlight the injustices and human rights violations the trade fair’s hosts are attempting to hide from the world, the participants, and visitors to Expo2020Dubai. The campaign will contact each of the participants and high-profile supporters one by one to evidence the gross human rights violation in Dubai and the wider UAE and the hypocrisy of their attendance at the world trade fair.

Detained International launched the campaign by publishing a set of powerful advertising placards that portray Sheikh Mohammed as a criminal. One shows him in his Royal Ascot top hat and tails with the words “Wanted: for crimes against humanity”, while another has the word “Liar” and “Kidnapper” under the expo’s slogan “Expo2020Dubai wants to shape the future”.

The NGOs’ letter highlights the cases of nine people being held in Dubai. Four are political prisoners who have served their sentences but continue to be held behind bars, three are pro-democracy human rights lawyers from the UAE94 movement, one is a prominent human rights activist, and one is an academic.

Haigh added, “There are plenty more we could have added. Detained International is currently fighting for the freedom of many detainees in Dubai, including Zack Shahin, an American who successfully built and ran leading Dubai property developer, Deyaar. When Zack wanted to leave Deyaar and return home to America to focus on his children he was made the scape goat in a political power struggle that saw a senior member of the ruler’s court effectively commandeer the company.  To stop Zack talking he has been set up and held in prison for nearly 14 years without charge. Zack who has been on hunger strike twice faces dying in prison.

“This is typical for Dubai, yet the world still turns up at its party. No-one should believe a word of anything any of the attendees says about supporting human rights and the rule of law, because they are conniving in this appalling catalogue of blatant abuses and the continued attempts of Dubai to fool the world.”

End

 About Detained International: Detained international is a legal advocacy NGO that provides pro bono legal advocacy to victims of injustice, inequality and other human rights violations in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates and wider Middle East.

Headquartered in London and Washington DC, Detained International was founded in 2018 by UAE torture victim David Haigh, a prominent human rights lawyer and justice and equality advocate. Detained International exists to help people in their hour of need, in many cases when they have been locked up far from home for no legitimate or even apparent reason and lack the support from obvious channels like their national embassy.

Press Contact

 David Haigh / Peter Margetts            

Detained International

+ 44 (0) 203 900 1188

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Email:                          press@detained.org.uk

Twitter:                       @DetainedIntl

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PRINCESS Latifa NOW IN GRAVE DANGER UNITED NATIONS TOLD

LONDON The United Nations is being urged to take ‘decisive action’ to protect Princess Latifa Al Maktoum of Dubai who is now in ‘grave danger’ at the hands of her father, the ruler of Dubai. The remarkable kidnapping of the 34-year-old princess by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for daring to leave Dubai against his wishes caught the world’s attention after Indian and Emirati troops stormed the boat Latifa and her friend Tiina Jauhiainen were on after Latifa’s escape from Dubai in February 2018. Yet despite worldwide publicity and an award-winning BBC documentary, the princess remains held against her will in Dubai. She has not been seen in public since the boat was stormed on 4 March 2018. Now the princess’s legal team is ramping up the pressure by calling on the 122nd session of the UN Working group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) to get the UN to intervene and force Dubai to provide precise details of Latifa’s whereabouts without delay. In the recent submission to the WGEID meeting, leading human rights QC Rodney Dixon concludes: “We are anxious to ensure that the UN takes all possible steps now to secure the safety, health and release of [Princess Latifa].” And urges the UN to “take decisive action in respect of this case which has gone on for a considerable period of time while Princess Latifa remains in grave danger”. Latifa’s high-powered legal team based in London also filed a 76-page submission to the UN WGEID Working Group at its last session earlier in the year which concluded, “Given the heightened and substantiated endangerment of Princess Latifa, we request the WGEID urgently intervene to guarantee Princess Latifa’s safety and welfare and to ensure that she is released immediately from being detained unlawfully in the UAE by the UAE authorities.” The submission set out the ruling by Sir Andrew McFarlane at England’s High Court in the custody battle between Princess Haya of Jordan and Latifa’s father. That ruling included the findings that Latifa was kidnapped in 2018 and her father, the ruler of Dubai, was not “open or honest” when trying to assure the world that Latifa was safe in his care. Jones and Dixon are asking the UN to consider evidence from the London hearing, which warrants that:
  • the WGEID’s investigation be given an urgent status
  • the UN promptly require the UAE authorities immediately to provide precise details of Latifa’s whereabouts
  • the UN promptly direct the UAE authorities to provide concrete and genuine guarantees for Latifa’s safety and welfare, including by providing immediate access to her, wherever she is held
  • all necessary steps are urgently initiated for the UN to intervene and protect Latifa from all violations of her human rights, in particular, to direct that she is released immediately by the UAE authorities from her captivity.
Alun Jones QC said“We welcome the findings of Sir Andrew McFarlane relating to Princess Latifa. The judgment reflects the tireless work of Tiina Jauhiainen and David Haigh, whose efforts to free Princess Latifa and to assist Princess Haya been recognized by the High Court. “It is a matter of grave concern that now that an English court has found that Princess Latifa and her sister Princess Shamsa have suffered from abduction, mistreatment and arbitrary imprisonment, the UK Government has nothing to say. Rodney Dixon QC added “It is most concerning that despite the High Court judgment on 5 March 2020 finding that Princess Latifa had been kidnapped, and worldwide calls for the urgent release of Latifa, she remains in captivity. Her fundamental human rights are being unjustifiably restricted and abused. The international community can no longer stand by.  “We are petitioning the UN Working Groups on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances and on Arbitrary Detention and other bodies to get access to her without delay and to ensure that she is released unharmed. It is vital more than ever now that the UN should take all necessary action to secure Latifa’s immediate release having been unlawfully held in the UAE for over two years.” David Haigh said, “The judgment from the High Court in London was emphatic. It’s now crucial that this evidence and the judgment of the highest family court judge in England, is used to bring about real change, starting with guarantees about Latifa’s safety, and – within the shortest possible time and the right circumstances – her release from captivity. “The wagons are now circling around the embattled regime in Dubai. In the months since the London judgment, numerous people have indicated they will distance themselves from the toxic Al-Maktoum dynasty, including the UK’s Queen Elizabeth II. It’s now time for the UN to add its considerable weight to the fight against the human rights abuses being perpetrated by the UAE regime.” Tiina Jauhiainen said “The recent submission is the culmination of two years of dedicated hard work that began whilst I was still detained in the UAE national security jail after I was kidnaped alongside Latifa. “Since our initial submissions to the UN David and I have attended multiple sessions of the WGEID, most recently in Geneva with Latifa’s barrister Rodney Dixon in September 2019 and February 2020. It is to the UN that we now look to safeguard Latifa’s fundamental human rights as set down in the UniversalDeclaration of Human Rights, to secure her safety and her freedom.” -Ends- Notes to Editors The judge in the London case of Princess Haya, Sir Andrew McFarlane, found that Latifa “was plainly desperate to extricate herself from her family and prepared to undertake a dangerous mission in order to do so” and that “there is no ground for doubting that it was indeed Latifa’s settled ambition to escape from Dubai.” The court also found that the actions of Sheikh Mohammed “demonstrate a consistent course of conduct over two decades where, if he deems it necessary to do so, the father [Sheikh Mohammed] will use the very substantial powers at his disposal to achieve his particular aims” and that Sheikh Mohammed “continues to maintain a regime whereby both of these two young women [Latifa and her sister Shamsa] are deprived of their liberty, albeit within family accommodation in Dubai.” The court ruled against Sheikh Mohammed in a custody battle he fought with his estranged wife Sheikha Haya over their two children. It found he had not been “open or honest” with the court over its assurances in January 2019 that Latifa was “safe and in the loving care of her family … and never has been arrested or detained.” About Free Latifa Princess Latifa stands for every person, especially every woman, who is held against their will when they have done nothing wrong. The Free Latifa Campaign is run by Latifa’s family, closest friends, supporters and advisors. It is headed by Latifa’s best friend Tiina Jauhiainen as Campaign Director, a human rights lawyer and campaigner David Haigh, Latifa’s cousin Marcus Essabri, and Latifa’s close friends Stephania Martinengo and Marco Remes. The campaign also benefits from the support of Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Detained International and a growing number of Latifa’s family, supporters, media, lawyers, politicians and celebrities around the world. The campaign is about positivity and love, we have one goal, to #FreeLatifa. Updates on the campaign can be found on www.freelatifa.com Press Contact Tiina Jauhiainen and David Haigh Campaign to Free Latifa Email:                          latifa@freelatifa.com Telephone:                  + 44 (0) 203 900 1188 Twitter:                       @freelatifa Facebook:                   @freelatifa Instagram:                  @freelatifa

END THIS HELL Dubai ruler’s ‘imprisoned’ daughter Princess Latifa remains in ‘grave danger’ as family begs UN to save her

THE United Nations is being urged to take “decisive action” to protect “imprisoned” Princess Latifa of Dubai who lawyers believe is in “grave danger” at the hands of her billionaire father. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum “ordered and orchestrated” the kidnapping of his daughter two years ago after she fled the country he rules, according to a judgement by the UK High Court in March.
Princess Latifa was abducted from a luxury yacht in 2018
Princess Latifa was abducted from a luxury yacht in 2018Credit: Instagram
Yet despite worldwide publicity and her plight being featured in an award-winning BBC documentary – Escape from Dubai: The Mystery of a Missing Princess – she is still being held against her will in her homeland. She has not been seen in public since the luxury yacht she was staying on with a friend was stormed by commandos in the Indian Ocean in March 2018. In a 40 minute video, Latifa revealed she had previously tried to leave the Emirates aged 16 but was captured at the border, jailed for three years, beaten and tortured. The UAE insists that Latifa is alive, safe and living with her family in Dubai. Now the princess’s legal team is calling on the UN Working group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) to get the UN to order Dubai to provide exact details of Latifa’s whereabouts. In a submission to the WGEID, leading human rights QC Rodney Dixon declared: “We are anxious to ensure that the UN  takes all possible steps now to secure the safety, health and release of [Princess Latifa].” And he urged the UN to “take decisive action in respect of this case which has gone on for a considerable period of time while Princess Latifa remains in grave danger”. Latifa’s UK-based legal team also filed a 76-page submission to the WGEID earlier in the year which called for the immediate release of the royal.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum is the ruler of Dubai
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum is the ruler of DubaiCredit: Alamy
She appeared in a video in which she described the reality of life in the Dubai royal family
She appeared in a video in which she described the reality of life in the Dubai royal familyCredit: AP:Associated Press
That submission set out the ruling by Sir Andrew McFarlane at the High Court in the custody battle between Princess Haya of Jordan and Latifa’s father. That ruling included the findings that Latifa, 34, was kidnapped in 2018 and her father was not “open or honest” when trying to assure the world that Latifa was safe in his care. It also found the sheikh waged a campaign of “fear and intimidation” against his sixth wife Princess Haya, who recently fled to Britain fearing he would kill her. Rodney Dixon QC said: “It is most concerning that despite the High Court judgement finding that Princess Latifa had been kidnapped, and worldwide calls for the urgent release of Latifa, she remains in captivity. “Her fundamental human rights are being unjustifiably restricted and abused. The international community can no longer stand by. “We are petitioning the UN Working Groups on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances and on Arbitrary Detention and other bodies to get access to her without delay and to ensure that she is released unharmed. “It is vital more than ever now that the UN should take all necessary action to secure Latifa’s immediate release having been unlawfully held in the UAE for over two years.” Lawyer David Haigh, of the #FreeLatifa campaign, added: “The wagons are now circling around the embattled regime in Dubai. “In the months since the London judgement, numerous people have indicated they will distance themselves from the toxic Al-Maktoum dynasty, including the UK’s Queen Elizabeth II. “It’s now time for the UN to add its considerable weight to the fight against the human rights abuses being perpetrated by the UAE regime.” Tiina Jauhiainen, the Finnish best friend of Latifa, who was kidnapped alongside her, said the new submission was the result of two years of dedicated hard work that began while she was still detained in the UAE.

BRITISH MOTHER WHO FOUGHT SHARIA COURTS IN DUBAI TO SEE HER SON FACES LOSING HER HOME – AFTER A UK JUDGE ORDERS HER PAY NEARLY £100,000 OF HER EX-HUSBAND’S LEGAL COSTS

  • Afsana Lachaux spent eight years battling for custody of youngest child Louis
  • She currently sees him for six hours a year in an approved contact centre 
  • Ms Lachaux now ordered to pay her former partner’s legal costs of £93,867.96

A British mother who fought the Sharia courts in Dubai for access to her son faces having to sell her home – after a UK judge ordered her to pay nearly £100,000 towards her ex-husband’s legal costs.

Afsana Lachaux, a former policy aide to Gordon Brown who now works for The Princes Trust, has spent eight years battling for custody of Louis, her youngest child, after the Emirate state granted a divorce and branded her an unfit mother.

She currently sees him for six hours a year in an approved contact centre.

But despite the Court of Appeal in France ruling that the divorce was invalid and ‘manifestly discriminatory’, the Dubai decision has been upheld by the British family courts.

In a ruling described as ‘unconscionable’ by a member of her legal team, devastated Ms Lachaux has now been ordered to pay her former partner Bruno’s legal costs of £93,867.96 – and may face bankruptcy if she does not pay it in full.

Afsana Lachaux, a former policy aide to Gordon Brown who now works for The Princes Trust, has spent eight years battling for custody of Louis, her youngest child, (pictured together) after the Emirate state granted a divorce and branded her an unfit mother

 

Speaking to The Mail on Sunday, Afsana, 52, said the decision made her feel like she was ‘drowning every day’ and the only option was to sell her house.

‘I’ve lost my child, I’ve lost my career and now I could lose my home,’ she said.

‘I could lose my home and I am terrified.’

Ms Lachaux’s ordeal began in 2012 when she was living in Dubai with her then-husband, French aerospace engineer Bruno Lachaux, and one-year-old Louis.

The couple had married in London but their relationship had broken down. Their subsequent divorce in Dubai was based on its sharia legal system.

Official translations from the proceedings stated she had not ‘obeyed her husband’ and was a negligent mother because Louis had eczema and she had struggled to breastfeed.

Ms Lachaux (pictured holding a sign reading Bring Louis Home) began her ordeal in 2012 when she was living in Dubai with her then-husband, French aerospace engineer Bruno Lachaux, and one-year-old Louis

Ms Lachaux's currently sees her youngest child (pictured together) for six hours a year in an approved contact centreMs Lachaux’s currently sees her youngest child (pictured together) for six hours a year in an approved contact centre

 

Despite French Courts’ ruling, however the British family courts concluded that overall the Dubai proceedings had been fair and the decision to award Bruno sole custody would probably have been the same in the UK.

‘I was in a very dark place at that time. It felt like my son had been ripped from my womb,’ she recalls.

The divorce had to be ratified back in Bruno’s home country of France and, last year, its Supreme Court ruled it was invalid and ‘manifestly discriminatory’ as it applied non-reciprocal grounds for divorce imposed by Emirati law on women only.

The ruling encouraged Ms Lachaux, who has two older sons from a previous marriage, to seek a similar judgement in the UK, hoping that it could result in her gaining greater access to Louis.

But Justice Nicholas Mostyn instead backed the legal outcome in Dubai, and the Court of Appeal in London agreed.

Justice Mostyn made severe criticisms of both parties in the case but, in a highly unusual move in a case involving access to children, he also ruled that Afsana would have to pay her ex-husband’s legal costs – with eight per cent interest added every day.

Ms Lachaux, who was awarded the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize for her work campaigning for justice and the protection of women, is now on anti-depressants and sleeping pills to help her cope with the strainMs Lachaux, who was awarded the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize for her work campaigning for justice and the protection of women, is now on anti-depressants and sleeping pills to help her cope with the strain
She has launched a crowdfunding campaign to meet the court demand, and is determined to raise awareness of the way British courts treat people with mental health issues (pictured previously with her son)She has launched a crowdfunding campaign to meet the court demand, and is determined to raise awareness of the way British courts treat people with mental health issues (pictured previously with her son)

It came even though Ms Lachaux’s legal team argued that such an award was unreasonable given she then had no job and had been suffering from PTSD.

‘The judge found I had a mental health illness, found I’d been traumatised and knew I had no money. How is that right?,’ she said.

Human rights lawyer David Haigh, a campaigner for human rights in the UAE who has been helping her with her case, said: ‘The costs imposed upon her by the Family Court – and remember, we’re talking about the Family Court – are just extortionate.

‘In upholding the Dubai judgement, the courts here weren’t even required to conduct a full hearing.

‘To expect her to pay fees totalling nearly £100,000 is unconscionable and the damage that it’s done to her and her family is profound.’

Ms Lachaux, who was awarded the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize for her work campaigning for justice and the protection of women, is now on anti-depressants and sleeping pills to help her cope with the strain.

She has launched a crowdfunding campaign to meet the court demand, and is determined to raise awareness of the way British courts treat people with mental health issues.

‘I also want to shine a light on the judicial system and how they treat ordinary mums,’ she said.

‘The judges have to be held accountable. There’s no understanding of the daily reality of women like myself.

‘If payday loan sharks and finance companies and credit card companies aren’t allowed to punish people with mental health in this way, why is the court allowed to do that?

‘The law says ability to pay isn’t an excuse and I’m still trying to challenge that.’

David Haigh founder talks to DailyMail

  • Sheikha Zeynab Javadli uploaded a series of videos to Instagram on Thursday
  • She posted during what appeared to be a ‘raid’ by people linked to her husband 
  • The 29-year-old married Sheikh Al Maktoum, 43, in 2015 but are now separated

The wife of a prominent Sheikh from Dubai’s royal family has posted a harrowing video pleading for help crying that she has been persecuted since leaving him nine months ago with officials trying to snatch her three children.

Sheikha Zeynab Javadli made the startling revelations in a series of moving videos to her 15,000 Instagram followers on Thursday morning during what appeared to be a ‘raid’ by people linked to her husband Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the nephew of the current ruler of Dubai.

Ms Javadli is a former Azerbaijani gymnast and World and European Championship medallist.

 

Sheikha Zeynab Javadli (pictured with one of her daughters), the wife of a prominent Sheikh from Dubai's royal family, has posted a harrowing video pleading for help crying that she has been persecuted since leaving him nine months agoSheikha Zeynab Javadli (pictured with one of her daughters), the wife of a prominent Sheikh from Dubai’s royal family, has posted a harrowing video pleading for help crying that she has been persecuted since leaving him nine months ago

She married Sheikh Al Maktoum, 43, in 2015 but their marriage hit the rocks nine months ago, when she moved out of the royal palace they shared and into a private villa, where she has been living with her three daughters; Sana, four; Asiya, three and Salama, one.

Her parents have also been living with her since the separation from her powerful husband, a former Olympic shooter who has two other wives and 11 children in total.

In the graphic video, a clearly distressed Ms Javadli, 29, can be heard speaking about people she alleges are linked to her husband entering her home.

She cries: ‘I can’t give my children up to strangers. This is how they are dealing with me. There’s no law.’

In the graphic video, a clearly distressed Ms Javadli, 29, (pictured) speaks about people she alleges are linked to her husband entering her home

A clearly distressed Ms Javadli, 29, (pictured) speaks about people she alleges are linked to her husband entering her home
She also claims that she has suffered a campaign of persecution over the past nine months which has involved physical and emotional abuse.

She wails: ‘The manager of the Sheikh was doing all this stuff to me. No one tried to help me, they said “this is a Sheikh issue, we can’t do anything.”‘

A young child can also be heard in the heart-breaking video saying: ‘You can’t take us anywhere,’ as people can be seen in the background gathered in the courtyard of the villa.

A distraught Ms Javadli adds: ‘No, food, no water, no nothing. Persecuted for nine months. They will break my door and snatch my children.’

She also complains that her mobile phone, which contained ‘evidence’ of the harassment she has suffered was also taken from her.

Ms Javadli’s plight has been compared to that of Princess Haya the former wife of the billionaire ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

She fled to London two years ago, along with her two children, telling friends she was in fear of her life.

A High Court judgment later ruled that she was the victim of attempted abduction, forced return, torture and a campaign of intimidation.

Ms Javadli’s friends fear that she may have been ‘detained’ as there has no communication from her since her Instagram posts, despite repeated attempts to contact her.

The whereabouts of her children are also unknown, and sources have also alleged that her parents may have been arrested.

People can be seen gathering in the courtyard of the private villa, where she has been living with her three daughters; Sana, four; Asiya, three and Salama, one People can be seen gathering in the courtyard of the private villa, where she has been living with her three daughters; Sana, four; Asiya, three and Salama, one

People can be seen gathering in the courtyard of the private villa, where she has been living with her three daughters; Sana, four; Asiya, three and Salama, one

In another Instagram video she posted on Thursday, she appears visibly distressed while locked away in a room on the second floor of her villa as shouting and hollering can be heard in the background.

One friend told MailOnline: ‘She had to lock herself in a room because they tried to take her children away from her and return them to the palace. We are all very worried because we haven’t heard from Zeynab for several hours.

‘She has suffered a lot over the past nine months. She wants to leave Dubai with her children and live a freer life.

‘I really hope that she is safe but there is nobody who can help her. Zeynab even contacted the Azerbaijan embassy for assistance but they said there’s nothing they can do.’

Ms Javadli (pictured with her daughters) married Sheikh Al Maktoum, 43, in 2015 but their marriage hit the rocks nine months ago
Ms Javadli (pictured with her daughters) married Sheikh Al Maktoum, 43, in 2015 but their marriage hit the rocks nine months ago
Another friend added: ‘They’ve been trying to intimidate and harass her but Zeynab is strong and has refused to give in.

‘She’s determined to leave Dubai with her children but there is no way the Sheikh is going to allow this to happen.’

David Haigh, a human rights lawyer from Detained International, which campaigns on behalf of those suffering from human rights abuses in Dubai and other countries said: ‘We were aware of Zeynab’s case for some time. Some women in this situation have managed to escape but sadly, the majority don’t.

‘In Dubai, royal women and women in general are treated very badly. They are denied their human rights and not allowed to live how they want. Zeynab is a member of the royal family who is being persecuted.

‘She is facing intimidation and isolation and I’m afraid that it’s not going to end good for her.’

The Dubai Media Office and the Communications Office of the UAE London Embassy have been contacted for comment.

HAIGH INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE SPEAKS TO EL PAIS ON CLIENT PRINCESS LATIFA

Leading Spanish newspaper El País covered the case of Princess Latifa on 3rd June 2020. The article discussed the 4th instalment of the award-winning news show 60 minutes Australia with updates on the campaign to free Latifa and news about her stepmother, Princess Haya of Jordan’s custody case in the English courts.

FreeLatifa campaign co-founder, Human Rights lawyer David Haigh was interviewed by El Pais on his work for Princess Latifa and other Emirati women.

The full article in Spanish can be read here: https://elpais.com/gente/2020-06-02/otra-joven-princesa-pide-ayuda-para-escapar-de-dubai.html

HAIGH INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE SPEAKS TO AWARD WINNING 60 MINUTES ON CLIENT PRINCESS LATIFA

PRINCESS LATIFA’S CASE COVERED BY AWARD WINNING NEWS SHOW 60 MINUTES

Escape from the Palace – Where are the missing princesses?

LONDON: 04 June 2020

Award winning news television show 60 Minutes Australia released their fourth instalment on the case of Princess Latifa recently with the YouTube version quickly passing more than 1 million views within days.

FreeLatifa Co-founders Tiina Jauhiainen and David Haigh appeared in the fourth instalment which focuses again on Princess Latifa, her stepmother Princess Haya and two other Gulf women.  Human rights lawyer David Haigh CEO of legal advocacy NGO Detained International was interviewed by reporter Tom Steinfort, with David updating Tom and the 60 minutes viewers on the latest developments on the campaign to Free Latifa and the divorce and custody case of her Stepmother Princess Haya.

David Haigh said “we are very grateful to 60 Minutes and Channel 9 for their long-standing interest, investigation and support re Princess Latifa.  We are overwhelmed that the 4 instalments, the first of which in summer 2018 was the first prime time news show to run with Latifa’s story, have been seen by a staggering 15 million plus viewers online alone. The third instalment saw Latifa’s own cousin Marcus Essabri break his silence and speak publicly for the first time, calling for the release of his Cousins Princess Latifa and Shamsa. Each new person that hears of the bravery of Princess Latifa is another person supporting her bid for freedom”

CALLS FOR SHEIKH MOHAMMED TO FACE JUSTICE OVER FAMILY ABDUCTION

UK judge ruled that ruler of Dubai orchestrated the abduction of daughters and intimidated his wife

Ministers, police, and prosecutors are under pressure to bring the ruler of Dubai to justice after a UK judge ruled that he orchestrated the abduction of two daughters – one from the streets of Cambridge.

The damning family court judgment naming Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who is a friend of the Queen and one of the UK’s most important figures in horse-racing, risks destabilizing diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates, a close Gulf ally.

His behavior was described by the judge, Sir Andrew McFarlane, on the balance of probabilities as amounting to potentially breaking English and international law.

The ruling found that the police officer investigating the abduction of Princess Shamsa from Cambridge in 2000, when she was 19, was prevented from traveling to Dubai to pursue his criminal inquiries.

DCI David Beck of Cambridgeshire police was denied permission to fly out to the Gulf to interview “potential witnesses” after making a formal request to the Crown Prosecution Service, the ruling found. The Foreign Office refused to hand over its files on the case to the court.

The Guardian and other news organizations can reveal the ruling following months of private hearings and a legal dispute that reached the supreme court. It details an extraordinary family saga spanning 20 years during which the sheik, 70, organized international kidnappings, imprisoned both Shamsa and another daughter, Latifa, and “deprived [them] of their liberty”.

The princesses Shamsa (left) and Latifa Al-Maktoum (right).
 The princesses Shamsa (left) and Latifa Al-Maktoum (right). Composite: The Guardian/AP

  Princess Latifa, then 32, was seized by Indian army commandos from the Indian Ocean in 2018 after fleeing her home and was forcibly returned to Dubai.

Allegations of torture surfaced during the case. Latifa said she was exposed at one stage to “constant torture”, and the judgewhile he did not make any finding on that specific point, said he felt confident in relying upon her account. She claimed to have been kept in solitude in the dark and beaten repeatedly.

The sheik’s actions emerged after his sixth and youngest wife, Princess Haya, 45, fled to London last April with their two young children. His attempt to return the children to Dubai triggered a legal action in the family courts.

Haya resisted it with a counter-claim seeking a forced marriage protection order in respect of their daughter, alleging that the sheik was trying to marry her off to the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. ‘MBS’, as he is better known, has been accused of involvement in the murder of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The court did not find this allegation to be true.

The judgment raises questions about whether the Foreign Office blocked the police investigation into the disappearance of Shamsa after she had fled to Cambridge from Surrey in 2000. McFarlane said he was unable to make a determination because the Foreign Office refused to cooperate on freedom of information grounds.

Following the ruling, Labour’s shadow attorney general, Shami Chakrabarti, said: “This is clearly a shocking judgment. Both Priti Patel [the home secretary] and Dominic Raab [the foreign secretary] must urgently investigate why a criminal inquiry into a kidnap in Cambridge appears to have been impeded.”

David Haigh, the British lawyer for Princess Latifa, told the Guardian that he was sending the judgment to the United Nations’ working group on enforced or involuntary disappearances, which is already investigating Latifa’s disappearance.

“We are delighted with the judgment,” he said. “It’s vindication for everything we have been saying, vindication for Shamsa, Latifa and Haya.”

Haigh said that he and Tiina Jauhiainen, Latifa’s close friend, had been interviewed at the end of last year by Cambridge police, who are still investigating Shamsa’s abduction. He added: “It is now clear to see why Sheikh Mohammed did not want these judgments to be made available to the world. They show him as someone unfit to be in charge of children, let alone a state that is an ally of the UK.”

Sheikh Mohammed’s behavior was first highlighted by a Guardian article in 2001, the judgment noted, adding that Haya read the story about Shamsa’s disappearance in 2016 but initially did not believe her husband was implicated.

Sheikh Mohammed is also the vice-president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates. He has fathered 25 children; his two with Haya are the youngest.

He refused to attend any of the multiple hearings at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London. His wife, Haya, was a constant presence in court, sitting alongside her solicitor, the prominent divorce lawyer Lady Shackleton.

The judgment goes into detail about the campaign of harassment endured by Haya. The judge accepted virtually all her allegations as true on the balance of probabilities, including that the sheik:

  • Attempted to have her abducted by helicopter.
  • Arranged for guns to be left in her bedroom.
  • Taunted her over her adulterous relationship with a bodyguard.
  • Divorced her without telling her.
  • Threatened to seize their children.
  • Published threatening poems about her online.

McFarlane finds that their relationship had deteriorated and that sometime in 2017 or 2018 she “embarked upon an adulterous relationship with one of her male bodyguards”.

In early 2019, Haya began to show interest in the fate of her husband’s daughters, Shamsa and Latifa. According to the judgment, the sheik began to make threats against her and in February, divorced her under sharia law without informing her. On 11 March that year, the judgment records, a helicopter landed near her compound in Dubai and the pilot told her he was going to take her to Awir, “a prison in the desert”.

Haya said that if her son had not been there and clung on to her leg, she would have been taken away. The judgment added: “Flight documents with respect to the helicopter have been disclosed and show that one of the crew was one of the three people named by Shamsa and [an employee of the sheik] as being involved in Shamsa’s removal from England in 2000.”

It continues: “Throughout this period the mother received a series of anonymous notes, left in her bedroom or elsewhere, making threats, for example, ‘We will take your son – your daughter is ours – your life is over’ or warning her to be careful … On two occasions in March 2019, the mother states that she found a gun left on her bed with the muzzle pointing towards the door and the safety catch off.”

In June, the sheik published a poem entitled You Lived and Died. Haya saw it as a direct threat to her and a public announcement of her “betrayal”.

The poem stated: “You traitor, you betrayed the most precious trust. I exposed you and your games … I have the evidence that convicts you of what you have done … You know your actions are an insult … Let’s see if mischief brings you benefits, I care not whether you live or die.”

McFarlane’s judgment explains that his ruling “may well involve findings, albeit on the civil standard, of behavior which is contrary to the criminal law of England and Wales, international law, international maritime law, and internationally accepted human rights norms”.

The civil standard is a conclusion made on the balance of probabilities; that is, the allegation is more likely than not to be true. It is not a finding to the criminal standard, which is beyond a reasonable doubt.

McFarlane ends his judgment saying: “These findings, taken together, demonstrate a consistent course of conduct over two decades where, if he deems it necessary to do so, the father [Sheikh Mohammed] will use the very substantial powers at his disposal to achieve his particular aims.”

The sheik has denied all the allegations against him. In a statement issued to the media, he said: “This case concerns highly personal and private matters relating to our children. The appeal was made to protect the best interests and welfare of the children. The outcome does not protect my children from media attention in the way that other children in family proceedings in the UK are protected.

“As a head of government, I was not able to participate in the court’s fact-finding process. This has resulted in the release of a ‘fact-finding’ judgment which inevitably tells only one side of the story. I ask that the media respect the privacy of our children and do not intrude into their lives in the UK.”

Neither the Foreign Office, Crown Prosecution Service nor Cambridgeshire police commented.

Haigh International Justice WELCOMES FAMILY COURT JUDGMENTS ON HRH PRINCESS HAYA AND CLIENT PRINCESS LATIFA

Commenting on the publication of the two-family court judgements in the case of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, and his estranged wife HRH Princess Haya bint Hussein, David Haigh, human rights lawyer and co-founder of the Free Latifa campaign said:

“It is now clear to see why Sheikh Mohammed did not want these judgements to be made available to the world. They show him as someone unfit to be in charge of children, let alone a state that is an ally of the UK. Much as it is a tragedy for the two children, he has with Princess Haya, it must also be a massive relief for her family to know they can continue their childhood without the malign presence that their father clearly presented.

“Only three weeks ago Tiina and I were at the United Nations in Geneva with Latifa’s Legal team, assisting the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances with their two-year-long investigation into the disappearance of Princess Latifa. It was clear then that the judgments in the case of Princess Haya would be key to the freedom of Latifa and we are pleased that the judgments can now be seen by the United Nations. We now call on the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary disappearances to bring their investigations to a conclusion and call for the immediate release of Latifa.

 

“We also call on the world, certainly anyone who has any dealings with Dubai, to use whatever influence they have as leverage to end this brutal and corrupt regimes abuse of human rights. That includes Queen Elizabeth II, who is a friend of Sheikh Mohammed through their shared love of horse racing. It also includes Ivanka Trump, Theresa May and Mary Robinson, all of whom have allowed themselves to be sucked into Sheikh Mohammed’s evil web and betray the cause of women’s equality. Now would be a very good time for all three to show some humility, apologise for supping with the Dubai regime, and distance themselves from it.

“The eyes of the world are now on Dubai and the wider United Arab Emirates as we await freedom for Latifa”

Tiina Jauhiainen who accompanied Latifa on her attempted escape from Dubai from 24 February to 4 March 2018, added:

“I am obviously delighted with the publication of the judgements, but at the same time, it is a very sad day for humanity. A father has been seen to mistreat and take advantage of his children and his wife. After everything that has happened with Sheikh Mohammed’s children and wives over the decades, we should not be surprised, but it’s still very sad when we have to take note of his depraved actions who have every reason to know better.

 

“The judgements throw additional light on the situation of Latifa. It gives us an idea of what her father is capable of and adds further credence to the video she recorded in February 2018.”

Notes to editors

The publication of the family court judgements comes just hours before the second anniversary of the storming by crack Emirati and Indian troops, under orders from Sheikh Mohammed, of the MS Nostromo, a private US-registered boat carrying Latifa and Tiina to safety in international waters. That act of state-sponsored violence took place on 4 March 2018, and the United Nations is still investigating the legal implications.

David Haigh was held for 22 months, most of it without charge, in a Dubai prison (2014-16). The former managing director of Leeds United was lured to Dubai to resolve a contractual dispute with his former employer, GFH of Bahrain (who owned Leeds Utd, 2012-15), thrown in jail before any negotiations could take place, and was only released after being raped and tortured.

Tiina Jauhiainen was working in Dubai in 2010 when she met Latifa. The two became friends, and Tiina helped Latifa escape Dubai on 24 February 2018. Before they left, Latifa made a heart-rending 45-minute video that was to be published if her escape failed. It has been viewed by tens of millions worldwide since she was kidnapped by her father’s troops and forcibly taken back to Dubai.

 About Free Latifa: Princess Latifa stands for every person, especially every woman, who is held against their will when they have done nothing wrong. The Free Latifa Campaign is run by Latifa’s family, closest friends, supporters and advisors. It is headed by Latifa’s best friend Tiina Jauhiainen as Campaign Director, a human rights lawyer and campaigner David Haigh, Latifa’s cousin Marcus Essabri, and Latifa’s close friends Stephania Martinengo and Marco Remes. The campaign also benefits from the support of Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Detained International and a growing number of Latifa’s family, supporters, media, lawyers, politicians and celebrities around the world. The campaign is about positivity and love, we have one goal, to #FreeLatifa. Updates on the campaign can be found on www.freelatifa.com

Press Contact

Tiina Jauhiainen and David Haigh

Campaign to Free Latifa

Email:                          latifa@freelatifa.com

Telephone:                  + 44 (0) 203 900 1188

Twitter:                       @freelatifa

Facebook:                  @freelatifa

Instagram:                  @freelatifa

2ND ANNIVERSARY OF THE ESCAPE FROM DUBAI OF PRINCESS LATIFA

You win the argument, yet the battle still goes on!

By David Haigh and Tiina Jauhiainen, co-founders of the Free Latifa campaign

The 24th of February 2020 marks the second anniversary of the attempt by Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum to flee the captivity of her father, the ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. It’s an anniversary we should celebrate because it denotes the moment a spirited young woman finally emerged from family incarceration an astonishing concept in the 21st century.

Anniversaries are strange things. They allow us to look back to a specific moment and analyze it at its significance, which may not have been apparent at the time. In this context, the question arises as to whether we should be celebrating the anniversary of Latifa’s escape from Dubai (24 February), or the end of her freedom eight days later (4 March) when the boat she was on was stormed by troops under instructions from her father, and she was kidnapped and brought back to captivity in Dubai. The former is the happier event, but the latter is of far greater importance.

In the two years since that fateful night off the west coast of India (and we speak with knowledge of the storming of the MS Nostromo as one of us was actually there and the other helping in the background recording and reporting events), we have effectively won the argument. The United Nations has accepted Latifa’s capture as a de facto example of enforced disappearance, even though it is still working on its final response in the case. Eminent television companies have made documentaries on the abuse of Latifa’s human rights. And an ill-judged visit by the former UN human rights commissioner Mary Robinson to try and “offer support to Latifa and her family” has been roundly criticized as aiding a regime to ride roughshod over basic human rights.

In addition, Sheikh Mohammed himself has been the subject of anti-molestation orders filed after his latest wife, Sheikha Haya, fled Dubai with their two children and sought divorce and custody in a London court, it was widely reported the reason for her fleeing was in the most part what she learned about the fate of Princess Latifa. Other members of his family have spoken out, including Latifa’s Cousin Marcus Essabri, a fellow Dubai palace resident and notably his first wife Randa Al Banna, who has been denied access to her daughter for more than 40 years because she had the audacity to divorce Sheikh Mohammed. And we know of more cases of abused members and those close to the family who are unable to speak out, so we won’t name them.

And yet in 21st-century geopolitics, winning the argument isn’t enough. Sheikh Mohammed and his decaying regime have not only denied Latifa, her full-sister Shamsa and other members of his family the rights of self-determination they seek. He has doled out his millions to get prominent names to act as cover for his perfidy, notably the inducements undoubtedly paid to Ivanka Trump, Theresa May and various other names who were lured to Dubai earlier this month to attend a women’s empowerment conference. The money was spent to disseminate the message that Dubai is at the forefront of efforts to promote women’s rights and chances – a more honest image would have been appointing Count Dracula to run Dubai’s blood transfusion agency.

The fact that prominent people are willing to sup with the devil illustrates how hard the campaign to free Latifa is. There are not just financial resources backing the captivity of Latifa and others, there are psychological resources too.

We will eventually get there. The English High Court in the case of Princess is widely expected to issue a judgment against the Dubai ruler, the UN may deliver a ruling on the kidnapping of Latifa. If one or both of these happen not even the tone-deaf regime in Dubai can ignore and if they do will the ruling emirate of Abu Dhabi. It would be lovely if a leading international figure would issue an ultimatum that Dubai will not be welcome while the daughter of the ruler is held against her will. An obvious person to do that would be the British monarch Queen Elizabeth II, who is a good friend of Sheikh Mohammed through their shared love of horses; her style would be to do it quietly, telling him that he will not be welcome at the prestigious Royal Ascot horse-racing meeting this year if Latifa is still in captivity. We are not holding our breath, but stranger things have happened.

Ultimately our fight goes on, and for two reasons. Firstly, it is the right thing to do. Latifa has expressed a very clear desire to travel outside Dubai and as long as she takes responsibility for her decisions that is her internationally recognized right and one which Latifa’s half-sister Sheikha Manal, flanked by Ivanka Trump and Theresa May preached this month at the Global Women’s Forum in Dubai. Secondly, this is not just about Latifa but about all women in the Gulf. Women are still treated as second-class citizens throughout the region – we cannot change that overnight, but by taking a high-profile example like Latifa, we can use her case to force change for all women subjected to the oppression of male guardianship laws.

The fight goes on at great cost to ourselves, but we know that millions of people around the world are behind Latifa and supporting our campaign for her freedom. We are immensely grateful for all the support, as we are sure it is Latifa. We cannot promise when we will achieve success, or whether we will be ‘celebrating’ more 24 February and 4 March anniversaries. But we will not rest until Latifa is free, and the rights of women in the Gulf started to improve.

David Haigh is a human rights lawyer who was jailed without charge in Dubai in 2014 and was held for a total of 22 months. Tiina Jauhiainen became a close friend of Latifa while working in Dubai and was with her when she escaped in February 2018; she now works for the Free Latifa campaign in the UK and Finland.

About Free Latifa: Princess Latifa stands for every person, especially every woman, who is held against their will when they have done nothing wrong. The Free Latifa Campaign is run by Latifa’s family, closest friends, supporters, and advisors. It is headed by Latifa’s best friend Tiina Jauhiainen as Campaign Director, a human rights lawyer and campaigner David Haigh, Latifa’s cousin Marcus Essabri, and Latifa’s close friends Stephania Martinengo and Marco Remes. The campaign also benefits from the support of Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Detained International and a growing number of Latifa’s family, supporters, media, lawyers, politicians and celebrities around the world. The campaign is about positivity and love, we have one goal, to #FreeLatifa. Updates on the campaign can be found on www.freelatifa.com

Press Contact

Tiina Jauhiainen and David Haigh

           

Campaign to Free Latifa

Email:                          latifa@freelatifa.com

Telephone:                  + 44 (0) 203 900 1188

Twitter:                       @freelatifa

Facebook:                    @freelatifa

Instagram:                   @freelatifa