Tomorrow, Thursday April 11th, 14-year-old Paris Shahravesh Correia Dos Santos will find out if her mum is coming home, or going to jail in Dubai.
Laleh Shahravesh, Paris’ mother, is being charged with violating Cybercrime laws in the United Arab Emirates for posting a mean comment on social media about her ex-husband’s new wife, and faces up to two years in prison and a $50,000 fine if convicted.
The last few years have been a series of upheavals and turbulence for the quiet teenager, and the outcome of tomorrow’s hearing will determine whether or not her immediate future will be getting even worse, or provide her a chance for normalcy.
Paris’ family moved to Dubai and were together for 8 months before she and her mum returned to the UK, expecting her father to join them shortly thereafter. Instead, her parents divorced abruptly in 2016 and she has been living with her mother in London ever since.
In March of this year, her father died in the UAE, and when she and her mother flew to Dubai to pay their final respects, they were both detained at the airport over the comments her mum posted years earlier.
“This young girl has been through a lot in a very short period of time,” Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai says, “Re-locations, the break-up of her family, her father’s death, and now her mother’s detention with the possibility of not seeing her again for years. It is truly heartbreaking.”
Detained in Dubai is representing Paris’ mother, who posted the comments from the UK, “The UAE’s Cybercrime laws are essentially a loaded gun at the head of anyone who is active on social media, and this gun can be used against them if or when they ever set foot in Dubai,” Stirling explains. “They mean that anyone who may ever visit the UAE must obey the laws of the UAE in their own countries, because they could be prosecuted the moment they land at Dubai International Airport for things they said at home.”
“I know if my father were alive, he would be horrified by what is happening,” Paris says. “I know he loved me, and would never want us to be going through all this. It took a long time for my family to work through all the emotions of the divorce, but we did, and all my mum and I wanted to do was say our goodbyes to my late father. Now I am afraid that I will lose my mum.”
Paris has already appealed to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai, to dismiss the case against her mother, and let her go home. The complainant in the case has stated that she would consider dropping the charges out of respect for the love of Paris’ father for his daughter, but no formal steps have been taken to withdraw the complaint.
“The real victim in this situation undoubtedly is Paris,” Stirling says, “She did nothing to deserve being separated from her mother, the only parent she has. This case has been devastating for her, and she is praying for compassion from the court for her mother tomorrow, so that hopefully, they can both get on with their lives in England”