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‘Horribly tricked’: Mary Robinson says she was misled by Dubai princess’ family

Former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson who had previously described Latifa as a "troubled young woman" after meeting her in 2018, now says she was "horribly tricked" by the princess's family.

by Jennifer McShane
16th Feb 2021

Robinson has said she was “misled” in relation to the case of Princess Latifa Al Maktoum, the daughter of the ruler of Dubai, who now claims she is being held hostage.

A photograph with the former President of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson went viral in December 2018 after it appeared to show proof of Latifa’s life, but Robinson now admits she was “horribly tricked.”

Robinson was criticised for comments she made in an interview in December 2018, when she said the woman was “troubled” and “vulnerable” adding that she was assured the princess was in good care, but said was advised not to have much interaction with her over the lunch where the photographs were taken so as to not add to the trauma of the princess.

“I was misled, initially by my good friend Princess Haya, because she was misled,” Robinson told the programme.

“Haya began to explain that Latifa had quite a serious bipolar problem. And they were saying to me, in a way that was very convincing: ‘We don’t want Latifa to go through any further trauma'”.

In response to the video, Robinson told the BBC that although she was aware of the 2018 photographs of her with the princess were being taken, she thought it was to be “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.”

Princess Latifa Al Maktoum has accused her father of holding her hostage following attempts to flee the emirate, video messages discovered by the BBC claim.

She escaped from Dubai in February 2018, but was forcibly returned the following month, according to reports. It was last year the High Court in London found her father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, “ordered and orchestrated” the abduction and forced return to Dubai of Princess Latifa twice, in 2002, and again in 2018.

Sheikh Mohammed and the Dubai Royal Court have claimed she is safe in the loving care of her family.

However, video messages recorded on a mobile phone, obtained by BBC Panorama, show the princess crouched against the wall in a bathroom at the “villa jail” where she said she is being detained.

“Every day 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.”

“All the windows are barred shut, I can’t open any window… I can’t even go outside to get any fresh air.”

Robinson has joined calls for international action to establish and confirm Latifa’s current condition and whereabouts. “I continue to be very worried about Latifa. Things have moved on. And so I think it should be investigated,” she said.