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Taoiseach says government will 'engage' with Mary Robinson over case of Dubai princess

Mary Robinson says she was ‘horribly tricked’ by Dubai princess’ family.

Image: Source: United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said the government will “engage with” Mary Robinson over the case of Dubai princess Sheikha Latifa.

In an interview with TheJournal.ie, Martin said:

“We will engage with Mary Robinson and talk to Mary Robinson about her insights into this before we take any further steps to try and clarify what actually happened here and what went on.

“It is something that does need clarity,” he said of the ongoing situation in Dubai. 

“The entire story is one that is upsetting and is concerning, and certainly we would like clarity on it.”

Robinson, the former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said earlier this week that she was “horribly tricked” over a photo taken of her with Princess Latifa, the daughter of the Dubai ruler – who has said she is being held hostage by her father.

In February 2018, Princess Latifa Al Maktoum reportedly tried to flee Dubai, but her friends said that commandos stormed a boat carrying her off the coast of India.

She was then brought back to the Emirates by Dubai’s ruler, the UAE’s prime minister and vice president Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Amid increasing international concern for the woman’s welfare, in December 2018 Mary Robinson attended a family lunch on invitation from Dubai’s royal family, and was photographed with the princess.

Afterwards, Robinson called Latifa a “troubled young woman”, which drew criticism from human rights organisations. 

In new footage shared with and published by BBC Panorama this week, Princess Latifa Al Maktoum appears in a video where she says that she is a hostage in a “villa converted into a jail” guarded by police, and fears for her safety. 

“Everyday I worry about my safety and my life. I don’t really know if I’m going to survive this situation.

“I don’t want to be a hostage in this jail-villa – I just want to be free. I don’t know what they’re planning to do with me. I really don’t know. So the situation is getting more desperate every day.” 

Robinson told the BBC that although she was aware the 2018 photographs of her with the princess were being taken, she thought it was for a “private photograph” to prove that the princess was alive.

“I was particularly tricked when the photographs went public. Horribly tricked. I mean that was a total surprise. I was absolutely stunned.”

“I continue to be very worried about Latifa. Things have moved on. And so I think it should be investigated,” Robinson told the BBC.

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Concern

Dubai’s royal family yesterday insisted that Sheikha Latifa was being “cared for at home” after the United Nations demanded proof that she was still alive following the airing of the video.

In a statement issued by the UAE’s embassy in London, the Dubai royal family said: “We want to thank those who have expressed concern for her wellbeing, despite the coverage which certainly is not reflective of the actual position.

“Her family has confirmed that her highness is being cared for at home, supported by her family and medical professionals.

“Sheikha Latifa continues to improve and we are hopeful she will return to public life at the appropriate time.”

The embassy did not provide any accompanying footage or images.

Friends of the princess say they are concerned for her safety because she has not been heard from since she stopped responding to text messages six months ago.

In December, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances reported that it had decided to examine the case of Sheikha Latifa, “who is reportedly being held in incommunicado detention at her family home in Dubai”.

In an interview with TheJournal.ie yesterday, the Taoiseach also spoke about how there would be regular reviews of the level of restrictions in place after the schools return at the beginning of March.

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