Monday 21 January 2019

Princess Haya regrets criticism of Mary Robinson

She says Mrs Robinson was invited to meet 'troubled' Sheikha Latifa so she could offer wise counsel on 'deeply private matter'

GOOD FAITH: In this photograph released last month by the United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sheikha Latifa is seen with Mary Robinson, who later faced criticism. Picture: AP
GOOD FAITH: In this photograph released last month by the United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sheikha Latifa is seen with Mary Robinson, who later faced criticism. Picture: AP

Gabija Gataveckaite

Princess Haya bint Hussein, the wife of the ruler of Dubai, has revealed she invited Mary Robinson to visit her and Princess Sheikha Latifa to "seek counsel as a family friend".

Princess Latifa, daughter of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of the Emirate of Dubai, sparked concern last year after she reportedly tried to flee the United Arab Emirates.

Her bid to leave her country was reportedly foiled close to the coast of India.

The former president of Ireland visited the family at the request of Princess Haya, and was later criticised by human rights groups for comments she made about the meeting, including a description that Princess Latifa was "a troubled young woman".

Speaking on The Marian Finucane Show on RTE Radio One yesterday, Princess Haya, Princess Latifa's stepmother, insisted that she invited Mary Robinson herself as she was seeking "counsel" and that she is a "true friend".

"When you're faced with a situation in life that is so profound and is deeply attached to your family, and situations that are complex and difficult, I've always learned in my life to ask for counsel, to look to those who are wiser and more experienced, but above all those who tell you the truth, without mincing words, without colouring them," Princess Haya said.

"A person who is a true friend who will look at the situation and tell you the right thing, not what you want to hear."

Speaking for the first time publicly since the controversy, she explained that the last several months have been "terrible".

"What's been a terrible last few months for myself, for my family, is a situation that is deeply private matter that we've been faced with.

"I have the most enormous gratitude for Mary on a personal level it meant the world to me and as I've said before, I feel so sorry that she is being criticised because of any actions of mine, I deeply respect and admire her," she said.

In an interview with the BBC, Mrs Robinson said that Princess Latifa was a "troubled young woman" who was receiving psychiatric care.

When asked about Princess Latifa's freedom and safety, Princess Haya insisted that Princess Latifa was in the loving care of her family and refused to elaborate any more on what she called a "deeply private personal matter".

She said that Mrs Robinson "made no judgment, I asked her here myself and details of that counsel are private. Contrary to what's being said, it's not anything other than a private family matter."

On Friday December 28, former Irish president Mary Robinson issued a statement saying she was "dismayed at some of the media comments" on her visit to the Emirates princess which she undertook in "good faith".

The former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was responding to criticism she received from some rights campaigners.

Photographs of Mrs Robinson with Princess Latifa were released by her family on Christmas Eve to rebut what they described as "false allegations" that she was taken home against her will.

Mrs Robinson said: "I am dismayed at some of the media comments on my visit and I would like to say I undertook the visit and made an assessment, not a judgement, based on personal witness, in good faith and to the best of my ability."

Mrs Robinson said she visited Dubai to meet the princess at the request of Princess Haya.

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

"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."

Sunday Independent

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