Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum and Princess Haya; Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum, daughter of Maktoum and former Irish president Mary Robinson from December 2018; after her attempt to flee Dubai
A UK family court judgment was published finding that the ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum orchestrated the abductions of two of his children, Princess Shamsa from Cambridge in 2000, when she was 19, and Princess Latifa, from a yacht off the coast of India on March 4, 2018, when she was 32.
He also found that claims made by Latifa in a YouTube video from 2018, that she was detained, beaten and sedated under the instructions of her father from June 2002 to October 2005, after she attempted to reach Oman, could also be relied upon.
Sir Andrew McFarlane made this finding after a legal battle followed Sheikh Mohammed’s sixth wife Princess Haya, 45, moving to London with their two children last April and making it clear she did not want to return to Dubai.
In a “fact-finding judgment”, which was handed down on December 11, 2019 but only published yesterday evening, Sir Andrew said he accepted the claims made by Princess Latifa in the YouTube video she created before her attempt to flee Dubai and posted by human rights lawyer David Hague on March 11th, 2018.
“I feel confident in relying upon all that Latifa has said in the video film and elsewhere both about her earlier abortive attempt to escape over the border to Oman and her subsequent detention.”
Former Irish president Mary Robinson was mentioned in the “fact-finding judgment” on two occasions.
This is because Latifa’s family released pictures on Christmas Eve in 2018 of Latifa with Mrs Robinson – claiming the photographs were evidence that Latifa was not being held against her will and to rebut “false” abduction claims.
Up until that point, it was known that Latifa had been seized from a yacht off the coast of India and had not been seen from since.
Following the release of the pictures, Mrs Robinson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that she had been invited by Princess Haya to “help with a family dilemma”.
“The dilemma was that Latifa is vulnerable, she’s troubled. She made a video that she now regrets and she planned an escape, or what was part of a plan of escape.
“I had lunch with her. She’s a very likeable young woman but clearly troubled, clearly needs the medical care that she is receiving.”
She said Latifa was suffering from “a serious medical situation” and receiving psychiatric care, but did not give further details. She also said Latifa’s family didn’t want her to “endure any more publicity”.
In his ‘fact-finding’ judgment, Sir Andrew McFarlane noted:
“The father [Sheikh Mohammed] also points to the fact, which the mother [Princess Haya] admits, that until at least mid-January 2019 she did not believe the assertion that Latifa and Shamsa were being ill treated and was taking steps, for example by inviting Mary Robinson to visit, to disprove the negative allegations.
The father states that he therefore finds it extraordinary that the mother is now seeking to exploit the very same allegations, given that she had never previously believed that they were true.”
He also noted:
“The mother states that on 10 December 2018 she decided to contact Mary Robinson, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former Irish President, whom she had known in previous times.
“The intention was for Mary Robinson to visit Dubai in order to establish “proof of life” with respect to Latifa on behalf of the United Nations. The visit took place.
“Thereafter the mother visited Latifa regularly. After these visits she sought to discuss the situation with the father, who, she says, told her, repeatedly, that he considered that Latifa was a danger to herself and that she had to remain in her current accommodation.”
It’s been reported that Mrs Robinson sent a report on her Dubai visit to Michelle Bachelet, the UN high commissioner for human rights and had also contacted Ms Bachelet’s predecessor, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein of Jordan and Kenneth Roth, the chief of Human Rights Watch about her visit to Latifa.
However, there is no mention in the fact-finding judgment of Sir Andrerw that he heard testimony from Mrs Robinson, sought to hear testimony from her, or sought to see Mrs Robinson’s communications with either/both Ms Bachelet or Mr Roth.
Mrs Robinson attended an event to mark the 250th anniversary of Trinity College’s Historical Society last night.
This morning, Seán McCárthaigh, in The Irish Times, reports that Mrs Robinson “declined to comment on the UK court’s ruling”.
“A spokeswoman for TCD said the university’s former chancellor was attending the event to speak solely on the subject of climate change and sustainable development.”
Robinson’s visit to Dubai in spotlight after UK court ruling (The Irish Times)
Sir Andrew McFarlane’s judgments can be read in full here