UN: Claim of captive Saudi princesses received

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Associated Press

Posted on March 12, 2014 at 1:03 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 12 at 1:07 PM

GENEVA (AP) — The United Nations has received pleas to help free several Saudi Arabian princesses allegedly being held against their will in a royal compound, officials confirmed Wednesday.

Allegations submitted to the U.N. human rights office claim that several daughters of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia have been held for the past 13 years in the royal compound in Jeddah.

In a rare disclosure about allegations received by not yet investigated, the U.N.'s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights confirmed receipt of the emailed complaints but said it could be several months at least before anything is officially published about the case.

The office did not say whether it considered the complaints substantial enough to warrant a follow-up investigation. Xabier Celaya of the U.N.'s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights told The Associated Press that U.N. officials are "not in a position to confirm if any action has been taken on this case."

She said Wednesday that the claims were brought to the attention of the U.N. special investigator on violence against women, who along with investigators on other issues receives complaints from around the world and must determine which ones merit a closer look. There was no immediate reaction from the Saudi U.N. mission in Geneva.

The case stems from an email sent to the United Nations and The Sunday Times of London, which published a story saying two daughters of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia — Princesses Sahar, 42, and Jawaher, 38 — had appealed for help claiming they and their sisters have been held for 13 years in the royal compound.

The newspaper said that their mother, Alanoud Alfayez, who lives in London and is divorced from the king, also contacted the United Nations seeking help with the case.

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