23 December, 2006

Child jockeys and sovereign immunity

United Arab Emirates rulers asked a federal judge on Friday to dismiss a lawsuit seeking damages for thousands of children who were forced to become racing camel jockeys, arguing that the issue is being fully addressed and that U.S. courts have no jurisdiction.

The Emirates, in conjunction with UNICEF, in May 2005 established a program to compensate, provide services for and repatriate young camel jockeys to their home countries, primarily Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sudan and Mauritania, the court papers said.

A UNICEF report this month said that 1,077 young camel jockeys have been returned home and provided with other assistance, including education. The Emirates on Dec. 11 announced it would set aside a minimum of $9 million (€6.82 million) to expand and extend the program through 2009.

The Emirates banned use of underage camel jockeys in July 2005.
. . .
Federal court in Miami is a proper legal venue, the lawsuit contends, because Emirates royal family members own hundreds of horses at farms upstate in Ocala and because no other court in the world could fairly address the claims.

The Emirates rulers, however, say there is no connection between anyone involved in the camel jockey issue and the U.S. court in Florida and that the country's rulers have immunity as heads of state.


A Blessing in Tragedy said...

They do have a point. this immunity makes no sense to me. Not just talking about this situation, could someone explain the reasoning behind making someone above the law?

BuJ said...

"The Emirates banned use of underage camel jockeys in July 2005."

I believe the law was introduced in the 1990's but loosely inforced.

Also, I reckon this trial will be a shambles, I'd rather prefer the international community to focus their efforts on Ariel Sharon's trial that is apparently being processed in a Belgian court for his crimes against the helpless people of Palestine.

People go on and on about certain things while refusing to see the bigger picture. Sure there's a problem with camel jockeys but it's not as widespread as say AIDS or drugs, and the UAE leaders have taken concrete steps to deal with it.

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