Mary Robinson calls not helping Dubai’s Sheikha Latifa her ‘biggest’ mistake

Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson
Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson (PA Archive)
3:50am, Sat 27 Feb 2021
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Former UN human rights envoy Mary Robinson has called not intervening in the case of Sheikha Latifa her “biggest” mistake.

The daughter of the ruler of Dubai tried to flee the country in 2018 and later sent secret video messages to friends accusing her father of holding her “hostage” as she feared for her life, BBC Panorama said.

Dr Robinson was the first female president of Ireland and is a former UN high commissioner for human rights.

I've made mistakes before and that's the biggest one

She flew to Dubai in December 2018 at the request of a friend for a lunch at which Latifa was present.

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

In an interview with RTE’s Late Late Show on Friday, Dr Robinson said she was “naive” in relation to the princess’s situation.

She said: “I made a mistake. I let my heart lead my head. I went to help a friend. I was naive. I should have been more alert.

“I’ve made mistakes before and that’s the biggest one.”

Friends and supporters said Latifa disappeared after commandos stormed a boat carrying her off the coast of India after she fled the emirate.

Nine days after the lunch, the UAE’s foreign ministry published photographs of Dr Robinson with Latifa, which it said was proof the princess was safe and well.

The stateswoman told Panorama she had earlier been presented with details of Latifa’s bipolar disorder, a condition she does not have.

Dr Robinson told the programme she did not ask Latifa about her situation because she did not want to “increase the trauma” of her “condition”.

Dr Robinson said on Friday she “100% believes Latifa now”, adding she has reached out to Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney about Latifa’s situation.

She said: “I’ve been in touch with Simon Coveney, and he has said we are on the [UN] Security Council now but even before that contact had been made with our ambassador in Geneva to support the high commissioner.”

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