The abduction or murder by authoritarian regimes of political opponents living abroad is by no means uncommon.
Iran kidnapped a dissident journalist in Paris in 2019 and then executed him. At least three Chechen exiles have been killed in Europe in the last year. In the UAE in August, Rwanda abducted Paul Rusesabagina, the real-life hero of the Oscar-nominated film "Hotel Rwanda". He is facing charges of supporting terrorism. China's relentless persecution of Uighurs and Tibetans beyond its borders has been widely reported. International uproar over the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Kashoggi by the Saudis in Istanbul has not subsided.
But when the UN's Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances hears evidence shortly about the Dubai abduction of Princess Latifa Al Maktoum it will be looking at a particularly disgraceful, unique case where a state has acted as a family enforcer for her father and its all-powerful billionaire ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum.
“If you are watching this video, it’s not such a good thing, either I’m dead or I’m in a very, very, very bad situation,” Latifa said in secretly recorded footage aired by the BBC’s Panorama programme. She talks about her 2018 mid-sea abduction by Dubai and Indian special forces, incarceration in solitary, incommunicado in a villa back in Dubai, and of alleged beatings and torture.
The aired messages, on a phone smuggled to friends, have ceased, raising further fears for the fate of the princess. The UAE government has previously said Latifa (35) is safe and happy with her family but such reassurances are worthless in the light of the actions of the Dubai ruling family which included the partially successful enlisting of former President Mary Robinson to plead its case. Mrs Robinson admits now to the BBC she had been "horribly tricked" during her visit to Latifa, is deeply concerned about her, and rightly, if belatedly, calls for an international investigation. Ireland should also raise the case on the UN Security Council.