Robinson faces fresh criticism for role in Dubai princess case as sheikh’s wife flees to Germany

Cormac McQuinn
July 1, 2019, Irish Independent

There has been renewed criticism of former President Mary Robinson over her involvement in the case of Dubai princess Sheikha Latifa who tried to flee her homeland.

It comes as Latifa’s stepmother Princess Haya – a friend of Ms Robinson’s – has now reportedly fled the United Arab Emirates.

The Free Latifa campaign has criticised Ms Robinson for declining to comment on the latest developments and accused her of showing “errors of judgement”.

Princess Latifa, daughter of the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, made an alleged bid to escape the UAE and had not been seen in public since reports she had been recaptured near the Indian coastline in March 2018.

Ms Robinson travelled to Dubai last December at the invitation of Princess Haya, who she said she has “known and worked with” for many years on humanitarian issues at the United Nations.

The former president was pictured having lunch with Princess Latifa and following the meeting described her as a “troubled young woman”.

‘Troubled young woman’: Princess Sheikha Latifa with Mary Robinson in December last year.
(Photo: United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation via AP)

The nature of the visit was criticised by advocacy groups Human Rights Watch and Detained in Dubai.

Ms Robinson insisted at the time that she travelled to Dubai to meet Latifa “in good faith” and told how she wrote a report on her visit for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Princess Haya later told RTÉ’s ‘Marian Finucane Show’ that she invited Ms Robinson to “seek counsel as a family friend”. Now she is reported to have herself fled Dubai and travelled to Germany.

Ms Robinson’s spokesperson told the ‘Sunday Times’ she would not be commenting on the reports as it was a “private matter”.

This has been criticised by the Free Latifa campaign group.

Human-rights lawyer David Haigh last night claimed Ms Robinson has shown “errors of judgement” in her involvement in the Princess Latifa case last December.

He said the Free Latifa campaign would be writing to Ms Robinson again to raise its concern on the matter.

A spokesperson for Ms Robinson last night reiterated that she would be “respecting Princess Haya’s privacy in what is a private matter”.