Who is Mary Robinson?
Mary Robinson – a willing pawn?
Mary Robinson is an Irish politician who was the first woman to become president of the Republic of Ireland. She also served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 1997-2002. Robinson is known for her continuous work in promoting human rights, and in 2004 she received Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award for this work.
She is currently the chairman of the Institute for Human Rights and Business and Chancellor of the University of Dubai although her main focus appears to be on climate justice work through The Mary Robinson Foundation.
On 24 December 2018, Mary Robinson was photographed sitting next to Princess Latifa during a lunch arranged by Latifa’s stepmother Princess Haya. In the photos released to the media, Mary Robinson is smiling but Princess Latifa looks unwilling, uncomfortable and shaken.
Three days later, Mrs Robinson told BBC Radio that she had been invited by Princess Haya, wife of Dubai’s ruler, to “help with a family dilemma”. She added: “The dilemma was that Latifa is vulnerable, she’s troubled. She made a video that she now regrets, and she planned an escape, or what was part of a plan of escape. I had lunch with her. She’s a very likeable young woman but clearly troubled, clearly needs the medical care that she is receiving.”
Mrs Robinson said the princess was suffering from “a serious medical situation” and receiving psychiatric care but did not give further details. She said her family didn’t want her to “endure any more publicity”.
Mary Robinson’s unwillingness to help Latifa raises questions about how much was she paid for participating in this Dubai government propaganda and about her role in supporting Latifa’s abductors.
More than that, Mary Robinson’s action in taking a partisan stance on an issue that was the subject of live legal proceedings at the UN undermined the work of the current UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet. In addition, it was met by anger and disgust byhuman rights groups and the international community. This has damaged her reputation as a public figure who has been seen to devote her life tohuman rights, especially women’s rights. This begs the question as to why anyone with such an impressive background – and knowledge of the UN human rights protocols in cases of enforced disappearances – would make a personal visit that would be used to manipulate media perception, especially as Latifa’s plight for freedom had been widely reported in global media before Mrs Robinson’s visit.