Britain wants the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to show proof that Sheikha Latifa, daughter of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, is still alive, Dominic Raab, British foreign minister said on Wednesday.
London’s request comes amid a controversial video by the BBC in which Latifa said she was being held against her will in a barricaded villa.
“It’s deeply troubling and you can see a young woman under deep distress,” Dominic Raab said.
In the video, shown as part of British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC’s) Panorama current affairs programme, Latifa, 35, said: “I am a hostage and this villa has been converted into a jail.”
She said she was making the video in the bathroom of the villa, the only room she could lock herself into.
“All the windows are barred shut, I can’t open any window,” she said.
Asked whether he would support seeing some kind of proof from the United Arab Emirates that Sheikha Latifa was alive, Raab answered Sky News television in the affirmative.
“Given what we’ve just seen, I think people would just at a human level want to see that she’s alive and well.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the United Nations was looking into the situation.
“That’s something obviously that we are concerned about but the U.N. Commission on Human Rights is looking at that.
“I think what we’ll do is wait and see how they get on. We’ll keep an eye on that,” he told reporters.
The Dubai government’s media office referred questions about the video to Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum’s law firm, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Reuters could not independently verify when or where the video was recorded.
Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum drew international attention in 2018 when a human rights group released a video made by her in which she described an attempt to escape Dubai.
Last March, a London High Court judge said he accepted as proof a series of allegations made by Sheikh Mohammed’s former wife, Princess Haya, in a legal battle, including that the sheikh ordered the abduction of Latifa.
The sheikh’s lawyers rejected the allegations.
Asked if Britain would impose sanctions on the UAE after the video, Raab said: “It’s not clear to me that there would be the evidence to support that.”
The Free Latifa campaign, which has lobbied for her release, said it had managed to smuggle a phone to Latifa, which had been used to send a series of secret video messages taken over the past two years.
Before Tuesday, the only time Latifa had been seen since she was brought back to Dubai was when her family released photos of her.
She was seen in the photo sitting with Mary Robinson, a former Irish president and a United Nations high commissioner for human rights, in late 2018.
But Robinson told the BBC she had been “horribly tricked” during the visit and never asked Latifa about her situation, fearing it would exacerbate a mental condition she was told the princess had.
Mohammed has a vast horse racing stable in Britain and has been pictured with Queen Elizabeth at Royal Ascot horse races. (Reuters/NAN)