Category: press

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

TRUMP AND MAY ACCUSED OF ‘BETRAYING WOMEN’ BY ATTENDING DUBAI CONFERENCE

The Free Latifa campaign has slammed the “staggering hypocrisy” of this week’s Global Women’s Forum in Dubai and accused Ivanka Trump and Theresa May of betraying the cause of women by attending the high-profile event.

Around 3,000 delegates listened to 100 speakers at the two-day gathering, including the US president’s daughter cum adviser, and the former British prime minister. Yet they were merely there to take part in “the latest publicity stunt designed to distract from Dubai’s quite appalling treatment of women,” according to the co-founder of the campaign to free the ruler of Dubai’s daughter from forced captivity.

The event took place just days before the second anniversary of the attempt by Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum, one of the two dozen children of Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, to escape what she describes as the “gilded cage” of her life in Dubai. And it was hosted by a woman who herself has been the victim of Dubai’s outdated treatment of women.

David Haigh, the human rights lawyer who co-founded the Free Latifa campaign, said: “Ivanka Trump and Theresa May have betrayed the cause of women by attending this charade in Dubai. They, or whoever is advising them, have no regard for the way Dubai treats women. It is merely the latest publicity stunt designed to distract from the country’s quite appalling treatment of women.

“This is the state-run by a man who locks up his daughters if they show any dissent and appears to abuse his wives, given that both his first and last ex-wife have made allegations against him. Our whole campaign is based on helping one of his daughters gain the freedom she seized in a daring escape in February 2018, only to be thwarted by his troops who stormed the boat she was on in international waters off India. And there are countless other family members – daughters, wives and nieces and nephews – who have had their human rights abused, yet a supposedly pro-women conference under Sheikh Mohammed’s patronage is supported by two women the world looks to for a lead!

“It’s a remarkable error of judgment by both women, on a par with the misjudgment made by the former UN human rights commissioner Mary Robinson when she allowed herself to be used for publicity purposes by Sheikh Mohammed in December 2018.”

Promotional material for the conference quotes Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, president of the UAE Gender Balance Council and another of Sheikh Mohammed’s daughters, as saying. “The UAE is today reaping the benefits of a development journey set in motion by its wise leadership, who believed in women’s capabilities and the importance of their role in society.

“The UAE provides an inspirational model for the empowerment and socio-economic participation of women. The country has created a highly supportive environment for women to enhance their contributions to society. The global community’s recognition of these remarkable achievements has led to the UAE becoming a venue for the world’s largest events focused on women’s empowerment and advancement.”

Haigh added, “This is staggering hypocrisy, coming from a woman who is not allowed to see her mother because she divorced Sheikh Mohammed. Her mother went public just two months ago to say she would love to see her daughter again, but Sheikh Mohammed has prevented it for 40 years, and here is Manal praising to high heaven the UAE’s treatment of women!

Tiina Jauhiainen, the close friend of Princess Latifa, and kidnaped alongside her in March 2018 added “Clearly Manal has been told what to say, and one can only feel sorry for her. But Ivanka Trump and Theresa May have not – they have knowingly and willingly played into the UAE’s hands with its brazen PR game, and added credibility to all the bogus statements about the Emirates promoting women’s empowerment. In doing so, both women have tarnished their reputations as inspirations who other women look up to.”

Several of Sheikh Mohammed’s daughters remain incarcerated against their will in Dubai. Latifa has been enforced disappeared, presumably locked in jail since her father’s troops kidnapped her at gunpoint on 4 March 2018 following her escape attempt. Her full-sister Shamsa seemingly remains in a similar situation after her attempted escape and kidnapping off the streets of Cambridge in 2000. And Manal is married to Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE’s deputy prime minister and owner of Manchester City Football Club, but she has not been allowed to see her own mother Sheikha Randa Al Banna for over four decades.

In December 2018, the former Irish president and UN human rights commissioner Mary Robinson visited Dubai and was photographed with Latifa in an attempt by the Dubai royal family to show Latifa was being cared for by her family. Robinson was heavily criticized for her visit and has yet to comment further. Haigh added, “The only positive spin anyone can put on Robinson’s reputation from this publicity stunt gone bad is that her involvement was somehow part of a wider plan to assist Princess Haya to flee Dubai with her children, and possibly Latifa. Until she says anything to confirm this, we have to be dubious about what’s left of her reputation as a women’s rights defender.”

Last year Sheikh Mohammed’s latest wife Sheikha Haya fled Dubai with their two children, issued a non-molestation order against Sheikh Mohammed, and is seeking custody of the children in a London court.

The Free Latifa campaign was set up by David Haigh and Tiina Jauhiainen, the Finnish national who helped Latifa escape from Dubai and who was kidnaped and taken to Dubai at gunpoint. She was held in Dubai in its national security jail without charge and subjected to inhumane treatment, but, unlike Latifa, was later released.

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

FREELATIFA TEAM ATTEND HIGH COURT AS CUSTODY HEARING OF DUBAI RULERS CHILDREN CONCLUDES

In a week that saw the United Arab Emirates kick off its “World Tolerance Summit,” the FreeLatifa team attended the High Court for the final hearings in the High Court battle over the children of the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Tiina Jauhiainen (Princess Latifa’s best friend and the FreeLatifa campaign director), Marcus Essabri (Latifa’s cousin) and Latifa’s human rights lawyer and founder of the free Latifa campaign David Haigh entered the famous Royal Courts of `justice shortly after the arrival of Her Royal Highness Princess Haya, the stepmother of Princess Latifa.

Princess Haya attended the High Court on Monday 11th November 2019 and throughout the week, her estranged husband Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed did not. The Dubai ruler has failed to attend any of the English court hearings to date, on a previous hearing date the Sheikh was in the United Kingdom but chooses to ignore the hearing and was seen purchasing racehorses instead.

The High Court is expected to issue its judgement in early December 2019, a decision that is likely to have significant implications for the fate of Princess Latifa Al Maktoum, currently held against her will in arbitrary detention in Dubai for more than 21 months. Now the subject of a United Nations investigation, Princess Latifa and her friend Tiina Jauhiainen were kidnapped at gunpoint on the Dubai rulers’ instructions in March 2018 from their boat off the coast of India. Latifa’s brave escape attempt and tortious life is now the subject of an Amnesty International award-winning BBC documentary Escape from Dubai watched by tens of millions around the world.

Whilst the High Court hearing began, the Sheikh was accused of “gross hypocrisy” over his stance on human rights after he issued a statement on his Twitter account in Arabic that stated:

During the meeting, we adopted a policy to protect the family. We have adopted mechanisms to protect, intervene and prevent all kinds of domestic violence. In the UAE, we do not tolerate any kind of harm towards a young child, an elder, or a weak woman.

David Haigh, a human rights lawyer representing Princess Latifa said “simply put the Dubai ruler is a Human rights abuser that believes he and his swathes of ever-changing propaganda churning PR firms, many from the UK, can fool the world. Thankfully, the facade of Dubai and the UAE as a safe and tolerant place has fallen and the world now sees the gross hypocrisy of this dangerous man, his Emirate and country.

The Free Latifa campaign will issue a press release immediately after the judgement is able to be reported on, setting out what it means for Latifa’s case and any others affected by the ruling. This will include quotes from Latifa’s cousin, Marcus Essabri, her human rights lawyer David Haigh and the Free Latifa campaign director and Latifa’s best friend Tiina Jauhiainen and Latifa’s legal team including Alun Jones QC and Rodney Dixon QC.

Due to court reporting restrictions, we are prevented from commenting on the reasons why the Free Latifa team attended court. However, if you would like a quote for use before the judgement, please quote David Haigh as saying: “We will be watching the High Court’s judgement very closely. The case will tell us a lot about how an independent court judges Sheikh Mohammed’s ability to deal respectfully and appropriately with his children and with others. Any condemnation by the court will strengthen the case for the immediate release of Latifa and further highlight his countries grave human rights abuses, presided over by the Dubai ruler himself. That in turn, will act as a shot in the arm to all women in the Gulf who are victims of the slavery of Gulf women that is male guardianship.”

 

UAE PREACHES TOLERANCE, PRACTICES HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE

In a week that saw the United Arab Emirates kick off its “World Tolerance Summit” the FreeLatifa team the FreeLatifa campaign joined by over 20 leading NGOs signed an open letter calling on attendees to boycott the summit. The NGOs, lawyers and human rights defenders included PEN International, David Haigh, Michael Mansfield QC, barrister Detained International, Association for Victims of Torture in the UAE, Alkarama, Jonathan Emmett, author, International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE, International Centre for Justice and Human Rights, Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Front Line Defenders, MENA Rights Group and Matthew Hedges.

The UAE’s ‘World Tolerance Summit’, supposedly intended to ‘focus on how education and knowledge-sharing can be a powerful tool to raise awareness on tolerance in diversity.’

However, it is clear that the UAE is less concerned with the principle of tolerance than it is with its carefully manipulated image as a global touristic and economic hub. As stated in the open letter calling for a boycott of the Summit, ‘the UAE Government devotes more effort to concealing its human rights abuses than to addressing them.’

In fact, it is clear that the UAE has devoted even more time to opposing tolerance entirely, with a report in The New York Times showing how the UAE attempted to install spyware on the computers of 1,100 dissidents and journalists.

A prescient example of this intolerance can be seen in award-winning human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor, currently serving a 10-year sentence for ‘insulting the UAE, it’s status and prestige’ on social media. Detained simply for a series of tweets critical of the regime, his imprisonment has drawn international condemnation, and in October 2019 a total of 142 NGOs joined forces in calling for his immediate release from al-Sadr prison.

The UAE’s systematic quelling of freedom of expression, and its role in the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, should leave no doubt that the World Tolerance Summit is little more than a thin veneer intended to obscure the reality of Emirati life.

David Haigh, a human rights lawyer representing Princess Latifa said “simply put the UAE has one of the most intolerant Governments in the world today. Until such time that the country respects the most basic of human rights and stops locking up innocent victims of injustice, ex-pats and Emiratis alike, it has no place using talking about human rights and tolerance. The only thing the UAE is tolerant of is intolerance.”

Tiina Jauhiainen Campaign Director for FreeLatifa said “my best friend Latifa is currently detained in arbitrary detention against her will, her father the ruler of Dubai was not tolerant of her simple wish to be free, for self-determination. There is no tolerance for women’s rights or other rights in the UAE. The attendees should reconsider their support, and I offer my time and first-hand experience to educate them of the reality of the intolerant UAE”.

APPENDIX 1

“Don’t’ whitewash the UAE’s gross human rights abuses”: NGOs call on World Tolerance Summit speakers to cancel their participation

World Tolerance Summit taking place in Dubai on November 13 and 14 to withdraw from the event, which promotes a misleading image of the United Arab Emirates as a model of tolerance and openness. This is the second World Tolerance Summit, initiated in 2018 to “strengthen the UAE’s position as a model of co-existence and cultural tolerance around the world.”

There has been a clampdown on fundamental human rights and freedoms. The authorities have prosecuted and imprisoned political opponents, human rights defenders, journalists, and critics, and systematically silenced peaceful dissenting voices, to such an extent that today, freedom of speech and civic space are virtually non-existent in the country. In a recent statement, seven United Nations independent experts expressed grave concern over the situation of imprisoned human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor, who is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for “insulting the ‘status and prestige of the UAE and its symbols’ including its leaders” in reprisal for his peaceful activism.

We also wish to inform you that in October 2018, the European Parliament adopted a resolution, calling on the UAE, among others, to stop all forms of harassment and immediately lift the travel ban against human rights defenders, and urging the authorities to “guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in the UAE are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities, both inside and outside the country, without fear of reprisals”.

8,000 civilian deaths through direct targeting alone expressed their concern over the active role of the UAE in this conflict and indiscriminate attacks by the UAE and other parties to the conflict against hospitals, water facilities, markets, and other civilian spaces. They strongly condemned all parties to the conflict for blocking access to humanitarian aid and the use of starvation as a weapon of war, which amount to war crimes. Save the Children estimated that 85,000children under the age of five have starved to death as a result of the conflict so far. The Group of UN experts also condemned the systematic use of enforced disappearance, torture and extrajudicial executions by parties to the conflict.

Regrettably, the UAE Government devotes more effort to conceal its human rights abuses than to addressing them and invests heavily in the funding and sponsorship of institutions, events, and initiatives that are aimed at projecting a favourable image to the outside world. The Tolerance Summit is yet another tool in the UAE’s campaign to “whitewash” its human rights record.

In light of the above, we urge you to reconsider your participation in the Summit. By promoting the UAE as “the global capital for tolerance” while hundreds are imprisoned for having peacefully expressed their opinion, you will contribute to silencing their voices.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CALLS FOR RELEASE OF DUBAI PRINCESS

Leading international human rights charity Amnesty International will join the #FreeLatifa campaign to present a petition with almost 17.000 signatories to the United Arab Emirates Embassy in Helsinki calling for the immediate release of the Dubai Princess.

Almost 17.000 people in Finland have signed an Amnesty International petition with a further 15,000 plus signing a similar Change.org petition in the United Kingdom demanding freedom for Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum, the daughter of the ruler of Dubai who is being held against her will in arbitrary detention in Dubai.

The petition will be handed to the United Arab Emirates in Helsinki at a demonstration organized by Amnesty International’s Finnish section on Wednesday 16 October 2019 in Helsinki.

During the demonstration, participants will be holding gilded cages as a metaphor of Latifa’s life in Dubai.

“For many of the women in Dubai, their country is a gilded cage – enormous in wealth yet tiny in freedom,” says Frank Johansson, the director of Amnesty’s Finnish section.

Princess Latifa tried to escape from Dubai in February 2018 but her boat was stormed by Emirati and Indian troops in international waters. Latifa was taken at gunpoint back to Dubai with her friend, Finnish national Tiina Jauhiainen and has not been heard from since.

Tiina Jauhiainen who will join the demonstration in Helsinki, said “I am humbled and forever grateful to the wonderful people of Finland who have not only supported myself in this horrific breach of my human rights when I was kidnapped by the UAE and India at gunpoint alongside my friend Latifa. Also, and perhaps, more importantly, they have stood up for my friend Latifa and her simple dream to be free from abuse, torture and have the right to self-determination, as we here in Finland are fortunate to have”

In September 2019 the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances, at a hearing at their 119th session in Geneva, confirmed that they continue to investigate the case of Princess Latifa, having taken on Princess Latifa’s case In April 2018.

Princess Latifa’s London-based lawyer Rodney Dixon QC said:“We are deeply concerned about Princess Latifa’s safety and well-being. Our concerns have only escalated following the decision by Latifa’s stepmother, Princess Haya to flee Dubai with her two children because she fears for her life. We understand that Princess Haya’s decision was strongly influenced by what she had learned to be the truth about her stepdaughter’s treatment.”

TOP HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYERS GIVE EVIDENCE TO UN TO FREE PRINCESS LATIFA

Two of the UK’s top Human Rights QC’s have stepped up the legal campaign to highlight the plight of imprisoned Princess Latifa in Dubai by providing crucial new evidence on her behalf to the UN in Geneva this week.

Alun Jones QC and Rodney Dixon QC, representing Princess Latifa, have made a special appeal to the UN to take urgent action to protect her and get her released without delay. These initiatives come at a critical time when Latifa’s stepmother Princess Haya has left her Prime Minister husband, Latifa’s father Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and fled Dubai for London with her two children. Princess Haya is presently bringing proceedings in the High Court in London against her husband to retain custody over her children.

The government of the UAE has submitted a statement to the UN denying that Princess Latifa has been detained. The UAE’s response claimed that Latifa is alive, safe and with her family in Dubai.

Princess Latifa’s lawyers have highlighted to the UN that the UAE’s response is unfounded. Princess Latifa’s London-based lawyer Rodney Dixon QC said: “In light of the available evidence, the claims of the UAE authorities are completely unsubstantiated. If they were true, why has Princess Latifa not been allowed freely to leave the UAE and travel? Why is no one permitted to have access to her at her request? She has not been seen in public for over 18 months.

“We are therefore deeply concerned about her safety and well-being. Our concerns have only escalated following the decision by Princess Haya to flee Dubai with her two children because she fears for her life. We understand that Princess Haya’s decision was strongly influenced by what she had learned to be the truth about her step-daughter’s treatment.”

The lawyers are urging the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID), which is currently meeting in Geneva to promptly require the UAE authorities to provide precise details of Princess Latifa’s whereabouts, to offer concrete and genuine guarantees for her safety and welfare by providing immediate access to her, and to protect her from all violations of human rights and require that she is released immediately by the UAE. They are also asking that this case is independently investigated by the UAE authorities and the UN so that those responsible for human rights violations can be held to account.

Princess Haya’s recent escape is also significant as she had previously invited former Irish President Mary Robinson to visit Princess Latifa in Dubai in December 2018. The meeting was widely criticized as a publicity stunt aimed at convincing the outside world that Princess Latifa was in good health and happiness in the UAE, a country she spent almost two decades trying to escape. Now that Princess Haya has herself fled the UAE, it further confirms that this visit was a sham designed to hide the truth about Princess Latifa’s situation.

David Haigh, a human rights lawyer who runs the Free Latifa campaign with Tiina Jauhiainen and Latifa’s cousin Marcus Essabri, said: “This is a very significant moment for Latifa. The UAE has some most difficult questions to answer and cannot simply ignore such an esteemed organization as the UN. The UN is evidently not convinced by Dubai’s use of smoke, mirrors and PR stunts, to cover up a brutal, violent kidnap of a young woman, her friend, and crew. It’s now some 18 months since we first complained to the UN, and despite all the mirages Dubai has created, those investigations continue, and we hope for a positive outcome very soon.”

Tiina Jauhiainen, the Finnish best friend of Princess Latifa, who was kidnapped alongside Latifa, 18 months ago said “ After attending the UN today with David and Rodney and meeting for the second time this year with the WGEID, we really believe and hope this could be a vital step to finally winning the freedom of Latifa. The world will be watching closely.”

17 MONTHS – A CRITICAL MONTH AS PRINCESS LATIFA’S EMINENT LEGAL TEAM ASK ‘DO WE STAND FOR THE RULE OF LAW OR NOT?’

A critical month as Latifa’s eminent legal team ask ‘Do we stand for the rule of law or not?’

Welcome to our monthly update on our international campaign to Free Latifa.

The last few months have seen endless work by all those involved in the campaign to free Latifa. As the campaign and legal team goes from strength to strength, Latifa’s chances of freedom have, we believe, improved significantly.

It is now over 17 months since an elite commando unit made up of hundreds of armed state security personnel, helicopters and planes was sent by the UAE and India to attack a small US-registered yacht in international waters, violently kidnap Latifa Al Maktoum, the daughter of Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, and take her back to involuntary captivity in Dubai.

But recent developments suggest the picture is changing, and the Dubai authorities’ disregard for international law may be forced to end.

July 2019 brought us the news that Sheikh Mohammed’s current wife, Princess Haya bint Hussein, has fled Dubai to London with their children. The ensuing family proceedings in London’s high court have seen a custody battle commence over the two children the couple have together. Once again the world’s spotlight has been cast onto the case of Latifa. Whilst there is no official confirmation, speculation is rife that Haya’s defection is at least partly motivated by concerns about the way Latifa has been treated under the orders of her father.

July also saw a very encouraging step forward, when the Free Latifa campaign gained the support of Latifa’s own family, the cousin of Princess Latifa, a former resident of the very palace where Latifa and Shamsa lived in Dubai. The Australian television programme 60 Minutes and The Sunday Times newspaper both carried features on Latifa, following Haya’s defection and the decision of Latifa’s cousin Marcus Essabri to speak out. The Australian documentary pointed out that Haya is the third member of Sheikh Mohammed’s family to escape, after Latifa in 2018 and Latifa’s full-sister Shamsa in 2000. Latifa remains in captivity in Dubai, with questions and concerns about their state of wellbeing, we have no news on Shamsa.

Meanwhile, two eminent QCs, Alun Jones and Rodney Dixon, together with a leading firm of British solicitors and junior barristers, joined the campaign to free Latifa and to head a growing international legal team comprising several countries. Jones is a leading human rights lawyer and expert in international crime, while Dixon is renowned for his work in human rights and international law, and is representing the British postgraduate student Matthew Hedges who was imprisoned after a five-minute trial for allegedly spying in the UAE.

Jones immediately called on the UK Government to respect the rule of law in relation to the kidnapping of Latifa. ‘It is a matter of grave concern that Princess Latifa has suffered from abduction, mistreatment and arbitrary imprisonment, with no opposition or protest from the UK authorities,’ he said.‘Do we stand for the rule of law or not?’

David Haigh a Human Rights lawyer from the campaign to free Latifa and CEO of Detained International said, ‘The tide appears to be turning. Sheikh Mohammed has kidnapped and imprisoned two of his daughters and is keeping them against their will in Dubai, but now one of his wives has escaped with another two children, which could be a watershed moment in the world’s view of Dubai and the wider UAE. If Princess Haya is willing to speak or use her influence behind the scenes, we could see Latifa released very soon, and one of the final nails in the coffin of the repugnant “male guardianship system” in the Gulf.

‘Meanwhile, the campaign goes on to make it clear that Latifa is being held in violation of several international laws and conventions, and we are confident Dubai’s disregard for international law will soon crumble.’

July saw the Change.org petition to call for Latifa’s freedom pass the 14,000 marks. Whilst a fantastic achievement, it is nowhere near enough. We need to show the UAE that millions around the world will not stand for the abuse and kidnap of Latifa or anyone else. Please help us to reach 200,000 this year. https://www.change.org/p/sheikh-mohammed-bin-rashid-al-maktoum-where-is-sheikha-latifa-al-maktoum-princess-of-dubai

July also saw David Haigh and Tiina Jauhiainen visit Geneva, where they held meetings with Latifa’s new Swiss and immigration legal team. They also received from the United Nations the UAE’s response to the complaint filed by David Haigh and Toby Cadman with the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances in 2018.

Tiina Jauhiainen, Latifa’s closest friend, said ‘Whilst I never expected we would pass a 17-month anniversary of the kidnap of Latifa, and of course the attack on myself and the crew, I have never been more encouraged by the recent progress made towards seeing my friend Latifa free. Latifa is truly blessed to have more and more supporters helping us, a top-ranking, talented and growing international legal team, and to see her bravery inspiring women around the world. In particular, I want to thanks Marcus Essabri and his family, it really has been a godsend to have his support and advice.’

Tiina added‘I also want to thanks the world’s media, our amazing team of lawyers, and of course Latifa’s amazing supporters across the world. I want to also say a special thank you to David Haigh. If it were not for David’s non-stop and unconditional support for Latifa and myself, often in the face of horrific abuse, I firmly believe we could all have been killed.’

Rodney Dixon QC said: “It is most concerning that Princess Latifa has still not been released and allowed to leave the UAE. Her fundamental human rights are being unjustifiably restricted and abused. The international community can no longer stand by.

“David and Tiina have worked tirelessly for more than a year to protect her, and have themselves been needlessly attacked and smeared for doing so. We will pursue all legal avenues on behalf of Princess Latifa to resolve this situation.

“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.”

Thank you for your support – together we will Free Latifa!

Tiina Jauhiainen

David Haigh

TWO EMINENT QC’S JOIN GROWING CAMPAIGN TO FREE PRINCESS LATIFA #FREELATIFA

TWO London-based eminent and high-powered QC’s have joined the growing global campaign to fight for the release of imprisoned Princess Latifa Al Maktoum, it was announced today (Monday)

Leading human rights lawyer Alun Jones QC, the founder of Great James Street chambers, is an expert in international crime as well as extradition and Rodney Dixon QC of Temple Garden Chambers, who is renowned for his work in human rights and international law.

They will work closely with David Haigh and Tiina Jauhiainen as part of the Free Latifa campaign. Princess Latifa has been held in Dubai on the orders of her father, the ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Maktoum since she was forcibly kidnapped on 4th March 2018.

They will explore all legal options through the UN and international bodies, as well as using their expertise in international jurisdictions to highlight the abusive regime and secure the freedom of Princess Latifa, aged 33.

The UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances has taken up the case and will be urged to issue its findings and recommendations to the UAE as soon as possible. The UN Special Rapporteurs and other bodies will also be petitioned to intervene on behalf of Princess Latifa to get access to her and secure her safe release.

Her plight has been thrust into the headlines in the last week following the news that her step-mother Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein has left the Dubai ruler to seek asylum and launch divorce proceedings in London, where she is seeking to prevent their children being returned to Dubai.

David Haigh, of the Free Latifa campaign and a human rights lawyer appointed by Sheikha Latifa, commented: “We are delighted to have the support of lawyers of such reputation and stature as Alun and Rodney. The combination of their experience, innovation and their expertise in this field makes them uniquely placed to support us and achieve freedom for brave Latifa.”

Tiina Jauhiainen, a close friend and confidante of Princess Latifa, who was kidnapped and forcibly taken back to the UAE alongside Latifa, said: “We are very privileged to have the support of people of the calibre of Alun and Rodney and their wise counsel makes me feel even more confident that we will eventually secure the freedom of my dear friend Latifa.”

Alun Jones said today: “It is a matter of grave concern that Princess Latifa has suffered from abduction, mistreatment and arbitrary imprisonment, with no opposition or protest from the UK authorities. Do we stand for the rule of law or not? “

Rodney Dixon said: “It is most concerning that Princess Latifa has still not been released and allowed to leave the UAE. Her fundamental human rights are being unjustifiably restricted and abused. The international community can no longer stand by.

“David and Tiina have worked tirelessly for more than a year to protect her, and have themselves been needlessly attacked and smeared for doing so. We will pursue all legal avenues on behalf of Princess Latifa to resolve this situation.

“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.”

 

STATEMENT FROM THE FREE LATIFA CAMPAIGN – PRINCESS HAYA AND MARY ROBINSON

David Haigh, a human rights lawyer, who has been leading the campaign to free Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum said today (Mon) “Our thoughts and prayers are with Princess Haya and her young children at this time and we hope they have found safe sanctuary away from Dubai. Her courageous decision to leave her husband and seek asylum and divorce further highlights the dubious role of Mary Robinson, the former UN human rights commissioner and Irish President.

“The latest shocking development also offers Mary Robinson a golden opportunity to redeem herself following her ill-judged and highly criticized mission to Dubai last December. She simply needs to make a sincere and contrite statement saying she was duped by the wish to help an old friend sort out a family matter, that she acted under duress, and she regrets and disowns her visit to Dubai last December.

“For the sake and the future safety of Princess Haya and her children and Princess Latifa and women in the Gulf she needs to be honest with herself and stand up for women. We will be writing to Mrs. Robinson to express our concerns.”

Ends.

MOTHERS DAY CALLS TO MOTHER OF KIDNAPPED PRINCESS LATIFA TO RELEASE HER AS FAMILY PICTURES RELEASED

Today, on international Mother day, Tiina Jauhiainenthe best friend of kidnapped Dubai Princess, Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum has called on Latifa’s estranged Mother Houria Lamara to help free Latifa.

In a heartwarming letter, sent today to Latifa’s mothers home at her family home of Al Wasl Road Palace, Dubai – Tiina said

“I am writing to you to respectfully as that you help me in freeing your daughter. Please help set a good example for this world, please do the right thing and help free Latifa”

“I am not a Muslim, but having lived in Dubai for many years I respect your faith. It is my understanding that the holy month of Ramadan is said to be a month of compassion and forgiveness. It is therefore that during the holy month of Ramadan and today on mothers day that I respectfully appeal to you not just as a human being, a Muslim but as a mother not to continue being complicit in the arbitrary detention and abuse of your daughter Latifa and to help Latifa and bring an end to her suffering.”

The letter was released together with never seen before family photos of the Al Maktoum family. In very personal photos, Latifa’s mother is seen publicly by many for the first time.

On the release of the never before seen photos, David Haigh a human rights lawyer and campaigner working on behalf of Latifa said “thanks to many of Latifa’s close friends we now have hundreds of unreleased pictures and videos of Latifa and her family. She entrusted these to her close friends before her escape attempt with the instructions to use them as necessary”.

Houria Lamara’s mother kidnapped Princess, Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum, and wife of Dubai ruler Sheikha Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in her earlier years.