A former UN human rights chief has been accused of ‘reciting from Dubai’s script’ after she described a princess who fled the UAE as “troubled” following an unusual meeting at the home where she is allegedly being held captive.
Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland, met with Sheikha Latifa earlier this month in Dubai and UAE authorities released photographs in response to rumours that the princess had been killed.
The pictures were the first time Latifa, the daughter of Dubai’s ruler, had been seen since she was allegedly captured in the Indian Ocean while trying to flee the UAE by boat.
She said in a video at the time she was trying to escape her family.
Mrs Robinson said Thursday that Latifa’s family had asked her “to help with a family dilemma” and appeared to downplay the escape attempt as the actions of a “clearly troubled” person.
"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," she said on the BBC’s Today Programme.
"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. She added that her family "don’t want her to endure any more publicity”.
Human rights groups said they were stunned by Mrs Robinson’s explanation and said it appeared almost identical to the UAE authorities accused of kidnapping her.
"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 Ms Robinson appeared to be reciting almost verbatim from Dubai’s script," said Radha Stirling, the head of Detained in Dubai, a rights group.
"What we heard today was Mary Robinson essentially reciting for BBC Radio listeners the content of the statement issued by the Dubai Ruler’s Court."
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. Would Robinson know the difference? Of course family doesn't want "publicity." https://t.co/hiPK3xOJqw pic.twitter.com/jkpzEGgTW2
— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) December 27, 2018
“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. Would Robinson know the difference?” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.
Latifa allegedly tried to flee in March 2018 but was intercepted at sea by commandos in the Indian Ocean. She pre-recorded a video to be released in the event her escape attempt failed where she warned that if she was caught she would be in “a very, very, very bad situation”.
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