Human Rights Watch asks Dubai's ruler about runaway daughter

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Human Rights Watch on Saturday asked Dubai's ruling sheikh to reveal the whereabouts of his daughter after a French ex-spy and others say she fled the emirate, only to be arrested off the coast of India.

A statement by the organization marks the latest twist in the cloak-and-dagger drama surrounding the disappearance of Sheikha Latifa, daughter of the ruler of Dubai sheikh Mohammed bin Rashed Al Maktoum, who friends believe has been returned to Dubai after fleeing in late February.

She was detained March 4 in a seaborne raid, witnesses said.

The London-based «Detained in Dubai», organization that offers itself as a rights group for detainees in the Gulf, regularly publishes the case of 32 year old Sheikha Latifa.

The group said it had intercepted a boat off the Indian coast at the beginning of March aboard the Princess, along with a number of foreigners, including her Finnish friend Tina Johainen and an American-French citizen Irvie Joubert had previously had problems with the UAE judiciary in «commercial fraud» cases.

On 17 April, the Dubai government came out silent in this strange case, citing the involvement of another Frenchman, Christian Ilombo, accused of helping the princess and currently in Luxembourg.

A source close to the government of Dubai told AFP that the daughter of the ruler of the emirate «is in Dubai and among its people and put it excellent».

He said the case was a «personal matter», but it turned out to be a «crackdown» on the reputation of the emirate through «wanted individuals».

«Failure to disclose the whereabouts and status of the princess could qualify as an enforced disappearance, given the evidence suggesting that she was last seen as UAE authorities were detaining her», Human Rights Watch said.

Dubai has declined to comment publicly about Sheikha Latifa since the Associated Press reported in April on her disappearance.
The government's Dubai Media Office offered no immediate comment Saturday.

«UAE authorities should immediately reveal the whereabouts of Sheikha Latifa, confirm her status and allow her contact with the outside world,» said Sarah Leah Whitson, Human Rights Watch's Middle East director.

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