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14.33 30 Dec 2018


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Executive director of Amnesty Ireland, Colm O'Gorman, says a lunch between former President Mary Robinson and the daughter of the ruler of Dubai should not dismiss "grave concerns" around treatment of the Emirati princess.

Photos of Mrs Robinson meeting earlier this month with Sheikha Latifa were released last week.

The images were released by the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

They appeared to show Sheikha Latifa and Mrs Robinson sitting down to a lunch and sitting together on a couch.

Mrs Robinson is seen smiling throughout.

She was subsequently criticised by activists concerned for the princess' welfare.

Radha Stirling, CEO of the Detained in Dubai group, claimed the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights "appeared to be reciting almost verbatim from Dubai’s script".

Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum, a daughter of Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, left, eats a meal with Mary Robinson | Image: United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation via AP

Up to that point, the princess had not been seen since March of this year when a second attempt to flee the Arab state failed.

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."

Following her disappearance from public view in March, human rights groups had raised concerns about her safety.

In this December 15th 2018 photograph, released on Monday, December 24th, 2018, by the United Arab Emirates' Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum, a daughter of Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (left) meets Mary Robinson | Image: AP/Press Association Images

In a statement released on Friday, Mrs Robinson said: "I am dismayed at some of the media comments on my visit and I would like to say I undertook the visit and made an assessment, not a judgement, based on personal witness, in good faith and to the best of my ability."

She added that she has prepared a report for Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, adding that she believes any future action "rests with that office".

Mr O'Gorman told On the Record the treatment of Sheikha Latifa is worrying.

"This intervention by Mary Robinson is the first that we've heard of Latifa since then.

"We have to assess the case based on everything that we know - and a lunch with anybody, I don't care who they are, a simple lunch with anybody does not dismiss the very grave concerns that surround this case and this young woman and her human rights.

"I saw that her lawyers have called today for a proper inspection and visit by appropriate experts - both human rights experts and also medical experts - to assess her condition and the conditions in which she's either being held or cared for, depending on who you believe".

"That would see, to be an appropriate way forward."

Additional reporting: Stephen McNeice


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