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Mary Robinson faces criticism over comments about Emirati princess

Mary Robinson (right) with Sheikha Latifa, daughter of Dubai's ruler

FORMER president Mary Robinson has been criticised over comments about an Emirati princess.

The former UN rights chief recently met Sheikha Latifa, daughter of Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, saying afterwards that she was a "troubled young woman".

Mrs Robinson also told the BBC the princess regretted making a video in which she alleged confinement and torture.

However, Radha Stirling, head of the rights group Detained in Dubai, claimed questions remained about the welfare of the princess, whose alleged attempts to escape from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were thwarted when a luxury yacht was intercepted off India before she was forcibly returned home.

A video later emerged – filmed following an earlier escape attempt – in which the princess said she and her family "did not have freedom of choice" in their lives.

She also alleged she had been imprisoned for three years and tortured on her return.

"Anyone familiar with Princess Latifa's story who listened to the BBC Radio interview today with Mary Robinson will be astonished at the extent to which Mrs Robinson appeared to be reciting almost verbatim from Dubai's script," Ms Stirling said.

Mrs Robinson said she had been invited by Princess Haya, wife of Dubai's ruler, to "help with a family dilemma".

"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," Mrs Robinson said.

She said the princess was suffering from "a serious medical situation" and receiving psychiatric care, but did not give further details.

Mrs Robinson said she was "dismayed at some of the media comments on my visit" and since her return she has written a report for Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"I believe future action rests with that office, with the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances and with the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions."

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