The former president says the girl is 'troubled'

Mary Robinson has described an Arab princess who had been feared missing as a 'troubled young woman who needed psychiatric help'.

The former Irish president has been pictured with the 33 year old, who hadn't been seen in months, and says she's in the loving care of her family.

Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammad al-Maktoum failed in an attempt to escape Dubai earlier this year, claiming she had suffered years of abuse at the hands of her family.

Human rights groups had raised concerns about her safety because she hadn't been seen in public or heard from since she was returned home in March.

Mary Robinson is now being described as a 'willing pawn' in the PR battle between the UAE ruling family and the rest of the world.

An international human rights group Human Rights Watch has asked how Ms Robinson would know the difference between the princess having an existing mental health problem and her suffering from alleged abuse from her family.

In a statement this morning Mary Robinson said:

'At the request of Princess Haya bint Hussein, one of the wives of the UAE Prime Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, I visited Dubai on 15th December to meet with Her Highness Sheikha Latifa.

I have known and worked with Princess Haya for many years in her capacity as a member of the UN Global Humanitarian Forum and as a UN Messenger of Peace. I was aware of the international concern over Sheikha Latifa and that she had not been seen for many months so when Princess Haya asked me to go to Dubai to meet with both of them I agreed, without hesitation.

On my arrival in Dubai I received extensive briefings and it was clear to me that Princess Haya had particular concern for the welfare of Sheikha Latifa whom she described as troubled and quite vulnerable. During my time with her Sheikha Latifa presented as a very likeable young woman with a wide range of interests but her vulnerability was apparent.

Since my return from Dubai I have written a report of my visit to Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. I believe future action rests with that office, with the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances and with the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

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. I will not be making any further comment on this issue at this time.'