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  • Writer's pictureDetained in Dubai

Radha Stirling: "Latifa case proves Princess Haya had good reason to try and escape"

It has been reported that Princess Haya made the decision to flee the UAE and her marriage to Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum after learning the truth about his alleged decades of abuse of his daughter Sheikha Latifa. 

After Latifa’s escape and capture last year, Princess Haya participated in a staged meeting for the media between herself, Latifa, and former Irish President Mary Robinson, in an attempt to counter the tidal wave of negative publicity Sheikh Mohammed faced over Latifa’s story. 

Robinson was severely criticised for taking part in the orchestrated PR stunt, during which Sheikha Latifa appeared dazed and sedated.

Detained in Dubai led the condemnation of the meeting, CEO Radha Stirling stated at the time:

“Ms Robinson suggests that the circumstances of Latifa’s escape should be investigated, but not the allegations of torture and abuse which prompted her escape, nor did she suggest that the violent capture by the security forces of the UAE and India in international waters should be investigated. She stated that Latifa is currently under “psychiatric care”; Latifa has previously described this “care” to include forced medication that caused her sister Shamsa to be sedated to the point that her personality was crushed after she was abducted from the UK and forcibly brought back to Dubai.”

Apparently, Princess Haya was troubled by the backlash, and began asking questions about Latifa; eventually learning enough to conclude that the young woman had indeed been tortured since childhood, imprisoned, and drugged by her father, Haya’s husband, Sheikh Mohammed. Alarmed by what she discovered, Princess Haya immediately began planning her escape to protect herself and her children.

“It is entirely plausible that Princess Haya never had contact with Latifa prior to the stage managed photo op last year,” says Radha Stirling. “Our sources have indicated such, and she does not appear to have had any subsequent contact with Latifa after the event. One can only imagine her shock, panic, and sense of betrayal once she knew Latifa’s story.

"What we have seen is that the endemic human rights violations in the UAE very much reflect a top-down, authoritarian system. The abuses that permeate the legal system; torture, forced confessions, fabrication of evidence, and arbitrary detention; correspond with the attitude and behaviour of those at the highest levels of government. I have testified as an expert witness in several high profile cases defending against extradition to the UAE, and the United Kingdom has categorically refused to hand individuals over to the Emirates due to human rights concerns.

"The UK courts should bear this in mind when determining Sheikh Mohammed’s suit for custody in this case. This is a man who not only wields absolute authority over Dubai; and therefore bears ultimate responsibility for the rampant corruption and abuse of that system; but he is also the man who stands accused of literally ordering a military raid on a civilian vessel in international waters to abduct his own daughter who was fleeing what she has called years of abuse at his hands. This is a man who has flatly refused to cooperate with a United Nation inquiry into that incident, and who has characterised criminal allegations of physical violence, unlawful imprisonment, kidnapping, and forced drugging, to be ‘private family matters’.

“Sheikh Mohammed reportedly told Princess Haya that Latifa had not escaped of her own free will, but had been taken as part of an extortion scheme, and that he had to rescue her. His attempt to now claim Haya has kidnapped her children and unlawfully taken them to the UK so that he may invoke the Hague Conventions on child abduction, is the same sort of ploy. It is clear that Princess Haya has taken this step precisely to protect her children from facing the same fate Latifa endured, and which she is still suffering.”

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