Ireland’s Mary Robinson is slammed for ‘reciting the Dubai line’ over ‘troubled princess’ receiving psychiatric treatment after state kidnap drama
- Mrs Robinson claimed that the princess is mentally unwell and receiving care
- It comes after reports she was forcibly returned home after fleeing the Gulf state
- 33-year-old had not previously been seen in public for more than nine months
Former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson has been accused of touting Dubai’s official line over a princess who was reportedly kidnapped and forced to return to the emirate.
Mrs Robinson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that princess Latifa is a ‘troubled young woman’ who regretted making a video in which she announced her intentions to leave Dubai, alleging that she ‘did not have freedom of choice’ and was being confined against her will.
Mrs Robinson’s comments yesterday came just days after the UAE released photographs of her with princess Latifa in response to rights groups’ concerns over the 33-year-old’s whereabouts and welfare.
Former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson (right) has been accused of touting Dubai’s official line over princess Latifa (left) who alleges she is being held in the emirate against her will
Mrs Robinson was invited to have lunch with Dubai’s ruling family after a BBC documentary revealed Latifa’s attempted flight from the emirate last March.
Latifa’s father, Sheikh Mohammad Al Maktoum, is the ruler of Dubai and the Maktoum family, which has major horse-racing interests in Ireland.
In a statement, the UAE ministry of foreign affairs and international co-operation said the photographs were a response to ‘false allegations’ and claim they are evidence that Her Highness Sheikha Latifa was at home and living with her family in Dubai.
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Until the photographs of their lunch emerged, Latifa had not been seen in public in the nine months since her attempted escape and her Instagram account had been shut down.
Mrs Robinson said that the princess is now ‘receiving psychiatric care’ and is in ‘loving care of her family’.
But before reportedly fleeing Dubai, Latifa had warned that her sisters and others who disagreed with the regime are frequently heavily medicated and described as mentally ill.
Mrs Robinson made the comments not long after photographs of her and the princess were released by the UAE in an effort to address human rights groups’ concerns over her whereabouts and welfare
The former president told the BBC: ‘The dilemma was that Latifa is vulnerable, she’s troubled. She made a video that she now regrets and she planned an escape, or what was part of a plan of escape.’
‘I had lunch with her. She’s a very likeable young woman but clearly troubled, clearly needs the medical care that she is receiving.’
Mrs Robinson said the family do not want her to ‘endure any more publicity’.
But Kenneth Rose, executive director of Human Rights Watch, yesterday challenged Mrs Robinson’s views.
He tweeted: ‘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.’
Women’s rights campaigner Aisha Ali-Khan said Mrs Robinson was being used to ‘whitewash’ the escape bid of Latifa.
Other campaigners want to know what independent evidence the former president and UN High Commissioner on Human Rights saw before she spoke out.
Campaigners say Latifa was snatched from a yacht after trying to flee with the help of French former spy Hervé Jaubert and long-time friend Tiina Jauhiainen.
She changed her clothes and sunglasses, and along with Ms. Jauhiainen crossed into Oman.
They then headed out into international waters by inflatable boat and jet ski to meet Mr Jaubert in a yacht flying the US flag.
The trio set sail for India, where Latifa hoped to claim political asylum in the US, but were stopped by armed men just 30 miles from the coast and taken back to Dubai.
Latifa was last seen on March 5 being dragged into a rubber boat by Indian and Emirati forces, according to those who were with her.
Her plight was the subject of a December 6 BBC documentary, Escape From Dubai: The Mystery Of The Missing Princess.
‘If you’re a female your life is so disposable,’ Latifa says in the film.
The Princess (left) escaped with Ms Jauhiainen (right) and planned to start a new life in America but three weeks into her escape bid, their yacht Nostromo was surrounded by Indian forces
‘If you’re watching this video, it is not such a good thing. Either I am dead or I am in a very, very bad situation.’
Toby Cadman, the barrister tasked by Detained in Dubai to represent Sheikha Latifa, said last night: ‘It is quite disappointing to see a person of Mrs Robinson’s stature brushing over what are very serious complaints. There are credible allegations that a number of individuals were unlawfully attacked in international waters.’
Mrs Robinson and her foundation have not yet replied to a request for comment.
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