Tuesday 23 July 2019

Letter Robinson sent to UN about Princess Latifa visit is 'not for public distribution'

Controversy: Princess Latifa and former President of Ireland Mary Robinson at their meeting in Dubai in December
Controversy: Princess Latifa and former President of Ireland Mary Robinson at their meeting in Dubai in December
Rory Tevlin

Rory Tevlin

Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson will not publish a letter she issued to the United Nations which contains a report of her controversial visit to Princess Latifa in Dubai last December.

Yesterday, the UN confirmed to the Irish Independent that - rather than an official report from Ms Robinson - it had received a letter from her following the trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

However, a spokesperson for the former President insisted that the letter she sent did contain a report of her visit.

It is understood the contents of the letter were similar to what Ms Robinson has said in the media since the visit.

Ms Robinson also met with UN high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, in January and spoke to her about the visit.

"Immediately following her visit to Dubai in December, Ms Robinson sent the OHCHR [Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights] a letter containing a report of her visit," the spokesperson said.

"She subsequently verbally briefed the high commissioner during a meeting in Geneva on January 16."

Asked if the letter would be available, the spokesperson said: "The letter and verbal briefing were for the high commissioner's information, not for public distribution."

The UN said that it would be up to Ms Robinson to release the letter or not and added that it did not request a report from her.

Ms Robinson - a former UN high commissioner for human rights herself - was criticised by a number of human rights groups following the visit to Dubai when she described Latifa as a "troubled young woman".

The princess - who is the daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the prime minister of the UAE - reportedly tried to flee the UAE last year.

Her presumed escape attempt was thwarted in controversial circumstances after it was alleged security forces from the UAE snatched her from a yacht off the coast of India in March.

A photograph of Ms Robinson and Princess Latifa was released by the UAE government on December 24, 2018.

On Monday, Ms Robinson said: "I gave a written report just after I went.

"Then I saw her [Ms Bachelet] in mid-January when I went to Geneva for a meeting on sustainable development goals and human rights.

"I gave her a full account, and I asked that her office would follow up on it.

"That's what should happen in so far as possible."

Ms Robinson added that she did not regret the visit.

"No, because I went to help a friend, and she's the only member of the royal family that I met or that I know, and we're friends," she said.

"I have spoken out before about human rights in the UAE,

"I haven't changed my spots. I will speak out again where appropriate. Nothing has changed."

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News