Detained in Dubai who has dealt with more than 10,000 cases of injustice over the past decade, warned that the rogue actions of the UAE and India in raiding a U.S registered vessel in international waters to capture Princess Latifa Al Maktoum in March of this year, abducting five foreign nationals along with her, including an American citizen; would set a dangerous precedent that would have multiple regional repercussions if the two countries faced no consequences.
So far, despite an FBI investigation into the abduction of U.S citizen Herve Jaubert; and in spite of queries into the incident by the United Nations; and despite a severe media backlash and popular outcry against the UAE and India; Prime Minister Modi and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum have remained defiant and refuse to answer for the illegal military operation that has left the world wondering where is Sheikh Mohammed’s daughter Latifa.
Without being called to account by the United States and the International Community, it appears that the UAE and India have concluded that compliance with the rule of law is optional, and whenever convenient, it can be dismissed.
At present, Indian officials are negotiating for the extradition of a British citizen, Christian Michel, from the UAE; bypassing the legal protocols of extradition because they feel their collaboration in the rendition of Princess Latifa entitles them to a reciprocal gesture from the UAE.
«This appears to be a case of political back-scratching between the UAE and India», says Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai. «India did the UAE a favour by supporting their military raid on Latifa’s yacht off the coast of Goa, resulting in her extrajudicial rendition back to the alleged abusers from whom she was fleeing. Now, India wants the UAE to return the favour. Both countries seem to have decided that bilateral dismissal of legal procedure is acceptable as long as there is mutual benefit.
For many years, the UAE has successfully covered up the massive, endemic legal abuses in the country, the disregard for Human Rights and especially the rights of women, and the authoritarian nature of the government; by hiring Western public relations firms to create and promote an image of the Emirates as a modern and liberal Arab country. But with the attack in March against an American civilian yacht, the rendition of Princess Latifa, and the kidnapping of a U.S citizen, a Finnish citizen, and three Filipinos, the lawlessness of the UAE had extended beyond their territorial jurisdiction. And now we are seeing that lawlessness change the way governments approach extradition. We are seeing a trend of the ‘politics of favours’ whereby legal processes are discarded; it is the normalisation of contempt for due process».
Stirling notes that not only have official bodies failed thus far to hold the UAE accountable for their actions, she is stunned at the continued support of celebrities for the Emirates, despite the fact that the country’s legal and cultural stances are so radically at odds with liberal values.
«This is a country where homosexuality is still a capital offence and Transgender people are jailed. This is a country where rape victims are convicted of having sex outside marriage. This is a country that felt entitled to reach beyond their jurisdiction to impose their version of Sharia Law in international waters to return a grown woman to the custody of her allegedly abusive father», Stirling explains. «It is astonishing to me that celebrities and the entertainment industry as a whole can continue to promote Dubai, even as organisations like Human Rights Watch decry the tremendous abuses in the UAE, and even as the UAE is facing a United Nations enquiry into their breaches of International Law».
Stirling says that Detained in Dubai’s work has proved that the UAE is highly sensitive to global public opinion, and that the precedent set by the raid in March will only spiral into further and more dangerous ramifications if left unchecked. «First the UAE bypassed the law to seize Princess Latifa, now India is essentially seeking the rendition of a British citizen while extradition is supposed to be a judicial process, not a political or diplomatic exchange of favours». She says, «after 10 years of experience with the UAE, what we can say with confidence is that the Emirates does not behave responsibly when they are granted impunity. What they are allowed to get away with, they will expand upon and escalate; and that is precisely what we have seen since the abduction of Latifa.
The growing publicity that this event has attracted, including most recently a 60 Minutes documentary, has awoken support from the public, from the United Nations, from celebrities and global organisations like Human Rights Watch and this is exactly what is needed to promote change in the gulf nation. Celebrities like Darryl Hannah and Mena Suvari are responding to the abuse of Princess Latifa, expanding on the momentous campaign to #FreeLatifa».
The team at Detained in Dubai, including David Haigh who was himself tortured in the UAE are, along with leading human rights barrister Toby Cadman, pursuing legal actions against both countries and endeavouring to warn investors and tourists of the great risks of visiting and supporting the UAE, a country who publicly warned residents that merely tweeting this story would land them in jail.