Britain's foreign minister on Wednesday called footage of the daughter of Dubai's ruler saying she is being held captive "distressing" and said the government would "watch closely" the response of the United Nations. Prime Minister Boris Johnson later told British media he was "concerned" by the videos, but that he would "wait and see" the conclusions of a probe by the UN Commission on Human Rights.
Sheikha Latifa, who has not been seen in public since she attempted to escape from the emirate by sea in March 2018, said in a video clip aired by the BBC that she fears for her life.
"They are very distressing pictures," foreign minister Dominic Raab told Sky News. "We always raise human rights issues with all of our partners including the UAE," he said, adding "we'll be watching and monitoring" the UN probe "very closely."
The BBC said the clips were filmed roughly a year after she was captured and returned to Dubai, showing her crouched in a corner of what she says is a bathroom. "I'm a hostage and this villa has been converted into a jail," she says in one cellphone video. "There's five policemen outside and two policewomen inside the house. Every day I am worried about my safety and my life."
In another video, Latifa says her situation is "getting more desperate every day". "I don't want to be a hostage in this jail villa. I just want to be free," she says. Latifa's father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, is vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a constituent.
The undated videos were broadcast as Latifa's friends voiced concern that they are no longer receiving secret messages from her, the BBC said. In 2018, Latifa attempted to flee the UAE on a boat that was intercepted by commandos off the coast of India, according to her companions and the UK-based group Detained in Dubai.
In the videos, Latifa says that men from the Emirates sat on her, tried to tie her up and injected her with a sedative. A Dubai government source later said she had been "brought back" and the UAE released photographs of Latifa, saying she was receiving "the necessary care and support".
Latifa said she was held for approximately three months in the Al-Awir central prison in Dubai, until May 2018, before being moved to the villa.
In 2019, Sheikh Mohammed's ex-wife, Haya Bint Al Hussein, fled to London, where she applied for a forced marriage protection order relating to their school-age children. The Dubai emir subjected Haya to intimidation, a British High Court judge ruled last year, granting her application for the children to be made wards of court allowing them to live in London with her.