Dubai’s royal family says Princess Latifa is “being cared for at home, supported by her family and medical professionals” after she accused them of holding her hostage in a villa in a video.
“I have been here ever since, for more than a year in solitary confinement. No access to medical help, no trial, no charge, nothing,” she said in a video shared with the BBC. “Every day I am worried about my safety and the police threaten me that I will never see the sun again. I am not safe here.”
In Feb. 2018, Princess Latifa attempted to flee abroad. Prior to her escape, she recorded a video claiming she was not allowed to drive, travel or leave the country. She was soon captured by commandos on a boat in the Indian Ocean and kept in Dubai since.
Princess Latifa recorded several videos on a secret phone to account her capture and detention in the “villa converted into a jail” with barred windows. The videos were released by friends and aired in a BBC Panorama documentary on Feb. 16.
The videos have prompted global concern, and the UN Human Rights Agency has asked the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to prove that Princess Latifa is still alive.
“Her family has confirmed that Her Highness is being cared for at home, supported by her family and medical professionals,” the royal family said in a statement, adding that “she continues to improve and we are hopeful she will return to public life at the appropriate time.”
“We want to thank those who have expressed concern for her wellbeing, despite the coverage which certainly is not reflective of the actual position,” the statement added.
Latifa’s family and her friends have since launched the FreeLatifa campaign, which is supported by many human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
“Any truthful confirmation that Princess Latifa is safe and well is of course welcome. However, the [royal family’s] statement is reminiscent of those in 2018, 2019 and 2020,” the FreeLatifa campaign said in a statement in response to the royal family’s comments. “Over the last three years the Dubai ruler and the United Arab Emirates, have been consistent with just two things, their continued abuse of Latifa’s most basic human rights and the lies they have told to the world to cover that abuse up.
The campaign said that each of its members had been in contact with Latifa for the majority of 2019 and 2020 and have thousands of videos, voice messages, photos, text messages and letters from her. It called for an independent team from the UN to travel to Dubai, visit Latifa immediately and insist she is brought to safety in a country of her choosing.