The issue of children–as young as 2–being kidnapped, sexually abused, and forced to serve as camel jockeys in Dubai has been brewing for years. Even after a ban was heralded by human rights groups last year, the sheiks looked the other way at the practice throughout the UAE. Now, families of kidnapped children have filed a lawsuit to stop the slavery. And Dubai’s “progressive” ruling family is named as a top conspirator:
Dubai’s ruling family has been served with a class-action lawsuit in the United States accusing them of masterminding an international child slave trade to provide jockeys and attendants for the popular desert sport of camel-racing.
The suit names both Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the crown prince of Dubai, and his brother, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al-Maktoum, as being “the most active participants” in the slave trade, which was described and denounced in a US State Department report on human trafficking last year.
According to the suit, as many as 30,000 boys from South Asia and Africa could have been victimised in what it calls “one of the greatest humanitarian crimes of the last 50 years”.
“Because camel racing is extremely dangerous and arduous, especially for children,” the suit says, “the Arab sheikhs would not make their own children jockeys and trainers. The sheikhs instead bought boys who had been abducted and trafficked across international boundaries and enslaved as young as two years old…
“The defendants robbed parents of their children and boys of their childhoods, their futures and sometimes their lives, for the craven purposes of entertainment and financial gain.”
The suit identifies six families as plaintiffs in the suit, although it does not name them. The case is being brought under the Alien Tort Statute, which dates back 200 years but has become a popular means to redress wrongs taking place far outside the borders of the United States.
The suit was filed in federal court in Miami, because the Maktoums have vast horse farm holdings in Florida – part of a multi-billion dollar investment they have in the US, ranging from sporting pursuits to hotels, residential buildings, health care facilities and Dubai Ports World, the company that tried unsuccessfully to take over six leading US ports last year.
By the way, my apologies if you are trying to read this post from Dubai. Readers and friends tell me this blog is still banned there after all this time.