Mary Robinson visit to Dubai a private family matter says Princess Haya

Mary Robinson visit to Dubai a private family matter says Princess Haya
Princess Sheikha Latifa and Mary Robinson

Princess Haya has appeared on radio saying why she invited former President of Ireland Mary Robinson to meet her family.

The wife of the ruler of Dubai told RTÉ Radio 1's The Marian Finucane Show that she invited Ms Robinson to visit her and Princess Sheikha Latifa, and asked for her counsel as a family friend.

Last month, photos of Ms Robinson meeting with Sheikha Latifa were released by the United Arab Emirates.

The state-run WAM news agency carried a government statement saying the princess is “at home and living with her family in Dubai”.

The government said Sheikha Latifa met with the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on December 15 at the family’s request.

Sheikha Latifa failed in an attempt to escape the UAE on a yacht earlier this year.

In a video filmed before the escape effort and posted online after her subsequent disappearance, Latifa claimed she had been tortured.

She said: "If you are watching this video, it's not such a good thing. Either I'm dead or I'm in a very, very, very bad situation."

Princess Haya said she invited Ms Robinson to Dubai because she wanted her counsel and said it was "absurd" that they were being asked to prove Sheikha Latifa is alive.

She added that contrary to what is being said, it is not anything other than a private family matter.

Sheikha Latifa with Ms Robinson in Dubai (United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation via AP)
Sheikha Latifa with Ms Robinson in Dubai (United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation via AP)

"I asked for Mary to come to Dubai. I asked for her to come to Dubai because it mattered deeply to me," said Princess Haya.

"I called her specifically with a question because I had seen a correspondence from the special procedures branch of the UN high commission for human rights.

"And the reason that this correspondence had such a shattering effect on me is simply the fact that we were being asked for proof of life, and being asked to prove that someone we love - that I love - is simply alive is absurd.

We've done our utmost to help and protect and support her through this period and we continue to do so.

It's unimaginable that this thing has gone so far from the truth.

It's been unbelievable and devastating and I really wanted to get the right advice from Mary on how to move forward.

"And I wanted her to give me that counsel. I did it as myself. There was no official party, there was no commission, there was no terms of reference.

"I made the call...and explained to her the difficulties that I saw and the heartbreak that I see around me and asked her to come and to give me advice.

File photo of Princess Haya (AP Photo/Keystone, Eddy Risch)
File photo of Princess Haya (AP Photo/Keystone, Eddy Risch)

"That's the thing that I really value from a person with her integrity, with her track record that is unblemished and to know that I'd get absolutely the truth.

"She is not a person who is going to mince words. She is her own woman. She always has been and that's what matters.

When asked about the interpretation that Ms Robinson was used as a PR exercise, Princess Haya said she was "really, really very, very sorry that my actions have led to the criticism of a person that I so deeply respect and admire."

She said that if she thought "for a single second" that "any shred" of what was being said was true she "wouldn't put up with it or stand for it."

Princess Haya added that the details of Ms Robinson's counsel to her and her family were private.

At the end of December, Mrs Robinson told BBC Radio 4 that: "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."

The head of Amnesty International Ireland said a simple lunch between Mrs Robinson and Latifa should not dismiss the grave concerns around the treatment of the Emirati princess.


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