Briton Christian Michel may be denied due process as Indian officials press UAE for extradition in gratitude for India’s collaboration in the capture of Princess Latifa
A British national appears to be caught in the ‘politics of favours’ between the UAE and India in the wake of India’s collaboration in the abduction of Dubai princess Latifa Al Maktoum in March.
India is seeking the extradition of Christian Michel in connection with a high profile financial scandal; but rather than pursuing the normal legal channels, Indian authorities have traveled to the UAE to request Michel be handed over to Indian custody; in what appears to be an expectation of reciprocity.
On March 4th of this year, the Indian Coast Guard participated in a joint raid with UAE special forces off the coast of Goa to capture Latifa Al Maktoum, the daughter of the ruler of Dubai. Latifa was fleeing what she called years of abuse at the hands of her father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Despite the fact that the princess was seeking asylum, Indian forces handed her over to the UAE, and she has not been heard from since.
India’s collaboration in this illegal raid and abduction reportedly followed a personal telephone conversation between Sheikh Mohammed and Prime Minister Modi, in complete disregard for normal diplomatic and legal protocols. India, it would seem, feels the UAE owes them a favour or two.
After all, the Modi government faced severe criticism for their participation in the raid, and for handing an asylum seeker over to her alleged abusers without so much as her petition being heard. India is being questioned over their actions by the United Nations, and there is an ongoing FBI investigation into the raid, as the vessel Latifa was taken from was a US registered yacht.
“Mr. Michel is a British citizen and should not be treated as a bargaining chip in the exchange of favours taking place between the UAE and India,” says Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai. “The protocols of extradition exist for a reason. These are judicial, not diplomatic or political matters. He has every right to defend against extradition, particularly when his access to a fair trial is questionable in India.
"The fact that the Indian government is seeking to bypass normal legal procedure indicates that Mr. Michel would be unlikely to be extradited if those procedures were followed. India are leveraging their own participation in the illegal capture of Princess Latifa to convince the UAE to return the favour by handing over Mr. Michel without due process. This should be of grave concern to not only the British government, but to the international community as a whole; we are seeing a trend emerging of defiance of International Law when governments are allowed to ignore established legal procedures in favour of, essentially personal deals between heads of state.”
“India is compounding their wrongdoing after their extrajudicial raid and seizure of Latifa’s boat, and her subsequent abduction. The Modi government approved and participated in the UAE’s illegal actions, their breach of International Law, Maritime Law, and existing treaties, and enabled the Emirates to circumvent the normal protocols when seeking the extradition of a wanted person,” says Shahid Bolsen, Partner of Detained in Dubai. “India seems to now want that same immunity from the law to apply to them; as if adherence to the rule of law should not be an issue between friends.”
Detained in Dubai and Toby Cadman of Guernica International Justice Chambers have taken the case of Princess Latifa to the United Nations, citing multiple breaches of International Law, as well as existing laws in both the UAE and India.
Bolsen continues, “Princess Latifa was seeking political asylum; she informed the Indian Coast Guard of this fact in no uncertain terms, and they were legally bound to provide her with a fair hearing before any decision should have been made to send her back to the UAE. Because India chose to ignore the rights their own law guaranteed her, Latifa’s whereabouts and welfare are still unknown. She has stated that she suffered severe abuse, torture, forced drugging, and detention for years under her father in the past; so of course, we fear for her safety. Both the UAE and India have refused to respond to United Nations’ queries; but it certainly appears that the Modi government decided to barter Latifa’s freedom and wellbeing in exchange for an understanding with the UAE regarding hassle-free, expedited, extrajudicial extraditions”.