Mary Robinson has come under fire after being pictured in Dubai alongside an Emirati princess who human rights campaigners claim is being held against her will.
The former Irish president Mary Robinson is being highly criticized for claiming that a princess of the United Arab Emirates is safe and being cared for by her family as human rights campaigners claim the young woman is being held against her will.
The former UN high commissioner for human rights was pictured having lunch earlier this week with Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum, a daughter of Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. The 33-year-old woman had not been heard from since March 2018 when she was seized from a yacht off the coast of India in what may have been an escape attempt.
In a video that friends released after her alleged March escape attempt, Latifa claimed that she had spent seven years attempting to escape a gilded prison in Dubai and feared torture if she was caught. Her family denies the fact that she was taken home against her will.
Sheikha Latifa: Mary Robinson 'backed Dubai version of events' https://t.co/7pj3hFZ94x— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) December 27, 2018
After photos showed Latifa in Dubai with Robinson, the former president has been accused of acting "as a willing pawn in the PR battle between the UAE ruling family and the rest of the world.” Robinson claims that she has known Princess Hayat, one of the Sheikh’s wives, for a long time and had been asked to Dubai to help with a "family dilemma."
“The dilemma was that Latifa is vulnerable, she’s troubled. She made a video that she now regrets and she planned an escape, or was part of a plan of escape,” said Robinson.
“She’s a very likable young woman but clearly troubled, clearly needs the medical care that she’s receiving.”
She added that the family did not want her to receive any more publicity.
“Mary Robinson said in the BBC interview that Princess Latifa is ‘a troubled young woman’, though I would be troubled too if I had tried to escape a gilded prison and was kidnapped back into it,” argued Ken Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch.
“I’m not sure that Mary Robinson during such a short visit would be capable of discerning the difference. A brief interview in the presence of the family that allegedly kidnapped her, after who knows what treatment she had been subjected to during the past nine months of incommunicado detention, is no way to find out.”
Mary Robinson says UAE Princess Latifa is "troubled," suggesting a pre-existing condition though I'd be troubled too if I tried to escape a gilded prison and was kidnapped back. Would Robinson know the difference? Of course family doesn't want "publicity." https://t.co/hiPK3xOJqw pic.twitter.com/jkpzEGgTW2— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) December 27, 2018
Robinson has also been accused of “brushing over” credible allegations about unlawful attacks and abductions in international waters by lawyers of two of the people on the princess' boat when it was seized in March.
“Mrs. Robinson appears to have spent a couple of hours with Sheikha Latifa, and despite having no formal medical or psychiatric training, has somehow diagnosed her condition and concluded that she is receiving appropriate treatment. It is unclear on what basis Mrs. Robinson considers herself qualified to do so,” said Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers.