Former president Mary Robinson has no regrets over Dubai princess visit

Former Irish president Mary Robinson said she has no regrets over getting involved in the case of a Dubai princess who had tried to flee the UAE.

Mrs Robinson, a former UN High Commissioner for human rights, was criticised by human rights groups after she travelled to Dubai to meet Sheikha Latifa, the daughter of the ruler of Dubai Sheikh Al-Maktoum last December.

Following the meeting, Dr Robinson described the 32-year-old princess as a “troubled young woman”.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Former Irish president Mary Robinson launches Trinity College’s Green Week in the Front Square (Niall Carson/PA)</figcaption>
Former Irish president Mary Robinson launches Trinity College’s Green Week in the Front Square (Niall Carson/PA)

Speaking after an event in Trinity College Dublin on Monday, she defended her decision to get involved saying she “went to help a friend”.

Asked whether she regretted visiting the princess, Mrs Robinson replied: “No because I went to help a friend.

“She is the only member of the royal family that I met, or that I know, and we’re friends.”

Mrs Robinson added that she had spoke out before about human rights violations and she would do so again.

“I have spoken out before on human rights in the UAE. I haven’t changed my spots. I will speak out again where appropriate. Nothing has changed,” she said.

Since the meeting, Mrs Robinson said she had reported to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet about the matter and that she had appealed to her to follow up on the case.

“I gave a written report just after I went and then I saw her in mid January when I went to Geneva for a meeting on sustainable development goals and human rights,” Mrs Robinson said.

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.&rdquo

Mrs Robinson said previously that she was “dismayed” by the commentary over her visit and that she had been invited by the family.

Authorities in the UAE released pictures of the December 15 meeting.

The release of the photos came months after friends and supporters said she disappeared following commandos storming a boat carrying her off the coast of India after she fled the Emirates.

Sheikha Latifa had previously appeared in a 40-minute video saying she was imprisoned “off and on” for several years and abused.

- Press Association

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