Human rights body Amnesty International on Tuesday accused India of violating international human rights law in connection with the disappearance of an Emirati princess in March.
Sheikha Latifa, daughter of Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, went missing on March 5 while sailing in a yacht with aformer French spy and a Finnish friend about 50 km from Goa’s coast. She had earlier claimed in a video that she would try to flee the United Arab Emirates as her family was oppressing and torturing her.
Amnesty International said Sheikha Latifa has been held incommunicado in an undisclosed location by the UAE since she was forcibly returned there. “Amnesty International considers this incident to have possibly entailed multiple violations of international human rights law by both India and the UAE, including arbitrary detention, torture, and enforced disappearance,” it said in a statement.
The human rights body urged the UAE to immediately disclose the princess’s whereabouts. It also called on India to investigate the incident and the role of security forces, including the allegations that the people she was with were beaten up, and ensure that people who are responsible are held accountable.
The rights body said that according to witnesses on board the yacht, Nostromo, Indian Coast Guard vessels on March 4 forcibly boarded and commandeered the boat in international waters as it was approaching and at a distance of over 20 nautical miles off the coast of India.
A squad of Indian commandos destroyed the equipment aboard the boat, Amnesty International claimed, and threatened everyone aboard with guns and beat the captain. They allegedly dragged off Sheikha Latifa even as she claimed political asylum.
Amnesty International noted that India is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which bans torture and ill-treatment.
In April, a report by Business Standard claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had authorised a “secret Coast Guard operation” to intercept the yacht on the night of March 4. “Highly-placed” government officials had told the newspaper that key national security experts advised Modi that the action was necessary to secure India’s counter-terrorism and strategic interests.