Skip to comments.Federal Judge Dismisses Camel-Jockey Lawsuit (Child Slave Jockeys in United Arab Emirates)
Posted on 07/31/2007 1:02:50 PM PDT by DogByte6RER
Federal Judge Dismisses Camel-Jockey Lawsuit
by The Associated Press
Date Posted: July 31, 2007
A United States federal judge dismissed a lawsuit July 30 seeking damages from two United Arab Emirates leaders for the use of thousands of children to ride racing camels, saying the case does not belong in U.S. courts.
Judge Cecilia Altonaga said she could not find a strong enough legal connection between the two Emirates leaders and their business interests in the U.S. to permit the lawsuit to move forward. Neither the children nor their parents live in the U.S., and the racing was held in several Persian Gulf countries for decades. The families of about 10,000 children are mainly from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sudan, and Mauritania.
The case pitted them against Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Emirates prime minister and ruler of Dubai, and his brother, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum, who is Dubai's deputy ruler and the Emirates' finance and industry minister. A spokesman for the two leaders said the lawsuit "distracted attention" from a program the Emirates and UNICEF created to reunite the children with their families and provide them with a range of social services, as well as compensation.
"These ongoing programs began long before the U.S. plaintiffs' attorney filed their baseless allegations," Habib al Mulla said in a written statement. "And they will continue as the U.A.E. and its international partners work to serve the best interests of the children."
Lawyers in Miami and South Carolina who represent the children and their families did not immediately respond to telephone and e-mail messages seeking comment.
The lawsuit was brought under a two-century-old law known as the Alien Tort Statute, which allows foreigners to sue in U.S. courts in certain circumstances. The lawsuit had reached the highest levels of the U.S. government, with the Emirates leaders appealing directly to President Bush to intervene. The U.S. State Department served notice last week that it would do so, arguing sovereign immunity protected the two sheiks from the lawsuit.
The judge, however, limited her ruling to jurisdictional questions and did not comment on the other legal issues, including whether the Emirates' new programs for the former child jockeys is sufficient. Lawyers for the children argued the sheikhs had extensive horseracing interests in Kentucky and Florida that provided a sufficient U.S. legal connection for the lawsuit.
Altonaga found the corporations were legally separate entities from the sheiks, and declined to order the lawsuit transferred to a Kentucky court.
"We've said from the beginning that this case doesn't belong in U.S. courts," al Mulla said.
So it IS fair to say that these children had no social services and no compensation until this "program" was created by the Emirates and UNICEF.
In other words, these children were little more than slaves whose only purpose was to ride on camels for rich oil sheiks to bet on.
I wonder just how much this "program" has done to significantly improve the lives of these children.
How do you suppose that the "Prophet of Peace" (Muhammad, blessed by his name) would view the mistreatment of foreign children by oil rich sheiks?
From the Ansar Burney Trust:
Child Camel Jockeys
The trafficking of young children for forced labor is one of the fastest growing areas in international crime. A study by the Ansar Burney Trust found that child trafficking has picked up considerable momentum over the past few years and one of the most disturbing roles these children were being forced into were those of camel jockeys.
The Ansar Burney Trust has for the last 16 years been working to bring to an end the cruel and atrocious act of using innocent young boys as camel jockeys in the Arab world. These children, some as young as 4 years old, are forced to work up to 18 hours a day in the scorching heat of the deserts.
The child who cannot stay awake for the 18 hours of gruelling work is given a karba (electric shock), while those who decide to disobey orders or play games are beaten and tortured. Stories of cruelty inflicted on many of the children rescued by Ansar Burney Trust involved them being tied up in chains in the desert heat, beaten with metal rods and leather whips, cut with blades and being raped by their owners.
They are deliberately underfed and malnourished to keep their weigh down and allow the camel on which they ride to run faster. Some are fed only three biscuits a day with water, while others are given dirty and unhygienic food worse than what is fed to the camels. If that does not bring their weight down, they are forced to wear metal helmets to make them bleed and reduce weight that way.
Another reason that very young children are used is the fact that when scared or in pain they scream; and the louder the child screams in pain the faster the camel to which he is strapped will run.
The children are fastened to the camels with Velcro, but the ride is so rough that many fall and are gravely injured dying a few days later due to the lack of medical attention or care. Some die on the spot by being crushed under the feet of racing camels and some are even killed by the owners of the camps because they wanted to leave. Those who survive, bare scars of their torment and permanent disabilities.
We estimate that as of last year, there were more than 20,000 children working as camel jockeys all over the Middle East majority of whom had been smuggled from South Asia and Africa.
A Glimmer of Hope
UAE: In November 2004, Mr. Ansar Burney met with His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. At the meeting a decision was taken by the UAE leadership to ban the use of underage camel jockeys and enforce the law with a punishment of fine and imprisonment. A centre was established a week later in Abu Dhabi under the authority of Ansar Burney Trust; it has the capacity to house 400 children and provide them with clean food and clothing, a good education, excellent medical treatment and a safe shelter. After 4 months, these children are to be repatriated back to their home countries.
Qatar: In May 2005, the Government of Qatar has announced severe punishments on the use of underage children as camel jockeys and ordered to replace them with robots. The Qatari government and the Ansar Burney Trust plan to establish a centre in Qatar for the treatment and rehabilitation of the children rescued from camps in the country.
Examples to follow: The Ansar Burney Trust is currently in the process of persuading other Middle Eastern countries to follow the example set by Qatar and the UAE; and ban the use of underage children as camel jockeys.
More background here:
Anti-Slavery International photo gallery of child camel jockeys in the UAE:
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