The United Nations has said it will question the United Arab Emirates about the continued detention of Princess Latifa, the daughter of Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Princess Latifa has accused her father of holding her hostage in Dubai since she tried to flee the city in 2018.
In secretly recorded videos shared with the BBC, Princess Latifa said she feared for her life.
“We are concerned about it,” UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Wednesday. He said the videos showed “a young woman in deep distress”, adding that the UK would watch any developments from the UN “very closely.”
But when asked whether sanctions could be imposed, Mr Raab said: “It’s not clear to me that there would be the evidence to support that.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said the government was “concerned” but would “wait and see how [the UN] get on” with their investigation.
And the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has said it would soon question the UAE about Princess Latifa.
“We will certainly raise these new developments with the UAE,” spokesman Rupert Colville said. “Other parts of the UN human rights system with relevant mandates may also become involved once they have analysed the new material.”
Princess Latifa’s father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is one of the richest heads of state in the world, the ruler of Dubai and vice-president of the UAE.
The UAE has close relations with a number of Western countries, including the U.S. and UK, which consider it a strategic ally.
With the help of friends, Princess Latifa tried to flee Dubai to start a new life in February 2018.
“I’m not allowed to drive, I’m not allowed to travel or leave Dubai at all,” she said in a video recorded just before her escape.
But days later, the princess was captured by commandos on a boat in the Indian Ocean. She was flown back to Dubai, where she has remained ever since.
Her father said he was acting in her best interests. Dubai and the UAE have previously said Princess Latifa was safe in the care of family.
Last year a UK court ruled that Sheikh Mohammed orchestrated the abductions of two of his children and subjected his wife to a campaign of “intimidation.”
The actions of Sheikh Mohammed were described by the judge as behaviour which, on the balance of probabilities, amounted to potentially breaking UK and international law.
The ruling detailed a 20 year period during which the sheikh, 71, organised international kidnappings, imprisoned two of his daughters and “deprived [them] of their liberty.”
Much of the ruling recorded the events surrounding the disappearances of Princess Shamsa from Cambridge in 2000, when she was 19, and of Princess Latifa, who was seized by Indian army commandos from the Indian Ocean in 2018, when she was 32, before being forcibly returned to Dubai.
Latifa said she was exposed at one stage to “constant torture”, and the judge, while he did not make any finding on that specific point, said he felt confident in relying upon her account. She was kept in solitary in the dark and beaten repeatedly, according to Latifa.
The sheikh’s actions only emerged after his sixth and youngest wife, Princess Haya, 45, fled to London last April with their two young children. His attempt to return the children to Dubai triggered a legal action in the family courts.