Former president Mary Robinson has defended her comments about a meeting she had with a princess who tried to flee the United Arab Emirates earlier this year and was feared missing.

Mrs Robinson, who is also a former UN human rights chief, met Sheikha Latifa, the daughter of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, earlier this month.

Authorities in the UAE released pictures of the meeting earlier this week.

Latifa has not been seen in public since she was allegedly captured at sea off India in March as she tried to escape after recording a YouTube video in which she criticised her father and the restrictions she lived under.

In an interview with the BBC yesterday, Mrs Robinson described Latifa as "a troubled young woman". Those comments led to criticism from a number of human rights campaigners.

However, in a statement issued this morning, Mrs Robinson said: "I am dismayed at some of the media comments on my visit.

"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."

Mrs Robinson said that she had been invited by Princess Haya, the wife of Sheikh Al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai.

She said: "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."

In her interview yesterday on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she said that she had been asked to "help with a family dilemma".

"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," she said.

"I had lunch with her. She's a very likeable young woman but clearly troubled, clearly needs the medical care that she is receiving," said Mrs Robinson, adding that her family "don't want her to endure any more publicity".

She said that Latifa was suffering from "a serious medical situation" and was receiving "psychiatric care" but did not give further details about her condition.

However, a number of human rights groups said questions remained about the princess’s welfare.

"Was she like that before attempting to escape her gilded prison or only after the UAE forcibly returned her there?" Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, asked on Twitter.

"The only certain thing is that a quick lunch won't provide the answer," he wrote.

Radha Stirling, head of the campaign group Detained in Dubai, had said Mrs Robinson "appeared to be reciting almost verbatim from Dubai's script".

She said that Mrs Robinson's comments "reveal nothing concrete about Latifa's condition and serve only to promote Dubai's attempt to avoid any serious enquiry".

Accounts by people involved in Latifa's escape attempt said that she fled first to Oman, before boarding a yacht which was surrounded by the Indian navy and then towed back to the UAE.

A source close to the Dubai government told AFP in April the princess had been "brought back" to Dubai.

Mrs Robinson served as Ireland's president between 1990 and 1997 and later served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997 to 2002.