Tuesday 18 June 2019

Robinson 'dismayed' at criticism of her visit to 'troubled' princess

Concern: Princess Latifa, left, has a meal with Mary Robinson. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Concern: Princess Latifa, left, has a meal with Mary Robinson. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Ralph Riegel

Former President Mary Robinson expressed her "dismay" at the criticism levelled at her trip to Dubai to visit Princess Latifa as the Twitter account for her climate justice foundation was taken down.

A day after she discussed the December 15 meeting with the Dubai princess on BBC's 'Today' programme - during which she described Latifa as "troubled" - Ms Robinson issued a personal statement in a bid to address the mounting storm of criticism.

Before she issued the statement, the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice page on Twitter was deleted - with dozens of social media posts querying details of her meeting with the princess.

The foundation page - @MRFCJ - was taken down with Twitter simply confirming the site no longer exists. It was a primary campaigning site for the former President's campaign for climate justice.

Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms Robinson, in a brief statement, expressed her "dismay" at how her Dubai visit had been received and insisted her comment about Princess Latifa's "vulnerability" should not be misinterpreted.

"I undertook the visit and made an assessment, not a judgment, based on personal witness, in good faith and to the best of my ability," she said.

Ms Robinson said she travelled to Dubai at the request of Princess Haya bint Hussein, one of the wives of the United Arab Emirates Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is the father of Latifa.

"I have known and worked with Princess Haya for many years in her capacity as a member of the UN Global Humanitarian Forum.

"I was aware of the international concern over Sheikha Latifa and that she had not been seen for many months so when Princess Haya asked me to go to Dubai to meet with both of them I agreed, without hesitation.

"On my arrival in Dubai I received extensive briefings and it was clear to me that Princess Haya had particular concern for the welfare of Sheikha Latifa, whom she described as troubled and quite vulnerable.

"During my time with her, Sheikha Latifa presented as a very likeable young woman with a wide range of interests but her vulnerability was apparent.

"Since my return from Dubai I have written a report of my visit to Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"I believe future action rests with that office, with the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances."

She also hit out at how her Dubai meeting was portrayed, adding: "I am dismayed at some of the media comments on my visit."

She said she would be making no further comment. However, human rights groups demanded further answers.

Lawyer Radha Stirling, head of the rights group Detained in Dubai, said further questions arise.

"What we heard was Mary Robinson essentially reciting for BBC Radio listeners the content of the statement issued by the Dubai ruler's court. This meeting in no way satisfies me that she [Princess Latifa] is free from the abuse that she told me she had suffered for years."

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News