The UK’s High Court ruled Thursday that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) organized the abduction of his two children to Dubai and the intimidation of his wife, Princess Haya.
Princess Haya fled to the UK with their two children following allegations of torture and intimidation, after which Sheikh Mohammad sought legal action in the family courts to bring the children back to Dubai. In the judgment, Judge Andrew McFarlane accepted all of the accounts of torture from Princess Haya and her two children, ruling that forcing them to return to Dubai would break English and international law.
This has been an eight-month long custody battle, which concluded with the High Court publishing a fact finding judgment (FFJ) identifying the great “public interest” in the case and the sheikh’s abuse of their international human rights. Allegations of abuse accepted by McFarlane included threatening to seize their children, forcing them to marry and arranging for guns to be left in his Princess Haya’s bedroom. On the balance of probabilities (the standard of proof for civil cases), the court decided that the the imprisonment of his two daughters, “deprived them of their liberty.”
Sheikh Mohammed denied all the allegations, accusing the FFJ of “only tell[ing] one side of the story.” Nonetheless the ruling this week may affect UK-Gulf relations.