Tuesday 22 January 2019

Editorial: 'Robinson put herself in eye of storm with princess visit'

'Ms Robinson must have had an inkling that involving herself in a dispute concerning one of the world’s wealthiest families amid allegations of kidnapping was always going to be of interest to the media.' Photo: United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation via AP
'Ms Robinson must have had an inkling that involving herself in a dispute concerning one of the world’s wealthiest families amid allegations of kidnapping was always going to be of interest to the media.' Photo: United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation via AP
Editorial

Editorial

They say the work of diplomats continues even as others fight - clearly not everybody needs to be in the firing line.

Former President Mary Robinson would know this better than most.

Her work in the UN has brought her world renown, she is well used to global flashpoints.

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She understands how to deflect or avoid contention, and was never one to be impaled upon her own argument.

Yet Ms Robinson has revealed she is "dismayed at some of the media comments" over a visit to a 'troubled' Emirates princess which she undertook in "good faith".

She has come in for sustained criticism from some rights campaigners over the trip.

The former UN high commissioner speaking on the BBC had said Princess Latifa - whom she met and was photographed with - was 'a troubled young woman', 'vulnerable' with a 'serious medical situation'.

Princess Latifa is not just any young woman. She is the daughter of Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum.

She had not been heard from since she was seized from a yacht off the coast of India in March.

Executive director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) Ken Roth said: "I would be troubled too if I had tried to escape a gilded prison and was kidnapped back into it."

Before her "escape", the princess made a video which she had asked friends to release in case her bid to get away from Dubai was foiled. She had claimed she spent seven years trying to flee the aforementioned "gilded prison".

So while Ms Robinson may be "dismayed", the fact is she placed herself in the eye of the storm.

She said she made the visit at the request of Princess Haya bint Hussein, whom she has known for years, and who is one of the wives of the sheikh.

Surely she can hardly be surprised by the controversy or the sceptical reaction from some quarters.

HRW has chronicled several cases of enforced disappearances by UAE authorities.

Nor should Ms Robinson be too put out by the questioning of her competence in assessing the mental or emotional state of a young woman.

Ms Robinson must have had an inkling that involving herself in a dispute concerning one of the world's wealthiest families amid allegations of kidnapping was always going to be of interest to the media.

HRW still would welcome a chance to speak about the case with Princess Latifa, and also to question UAE government officials.

Ms Robinson has spoken of her dismay at media coverage.

One wonders how Princess Latifa might be feeling.

Irish Independent

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