UAE’s Dubai leader asks Bush to help dismiss slavery lawsuit


Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktum, ruler of Dubai and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates nation of which the city is part, wrote Bush in February about the lawsuit.

The suit was filed in December by a group of parents charging the Emir of enslaving thousands of children to breed, train and ride camels for the racing circuit.

Warning that the lawsuit was "causing an unnecessary interference" in US-UAE relations, and recalling that the UAE is "a key partner in the global war against terrorism," the Sheikh asked for Bush to get involved in the case.

"I would therefore appreciate your personal attention to ensuring the United States government’s support for dismissal of the entire case," wrote the Emir of Dubai in a two-page letter that his defense lawyers presented in court.

He said the lawsuit "may complicate our ongoing and already effective efforts to resolve the issues addressed in the litigation."

The UAE in 2005 banned child labor in the camel racing business and signed an agreement with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to repatriate thousands of children and compensate their parents, defense lawyers said.

UNICEF has put the UAE cost of the repatriation scheme at nine million dollars and said 1,000 children so far have been returned to their homes.

Other court documents shown Monday include a December letter from US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telling the UAE foreign minister that Washington was "carefully" considering the request for dismissal "and will take appropriate action."

"We appreciate the efforts made by the United Arab Emirates to regulate the treatment of camel jockeys," Rice added in her letter.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege that from the 1970s, up to 30,000 children, some as young as two, were taken from their families from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sudan and Mauritania and sold into virtual slavery in the UAE’s camel racing business.

The Emir of Dubai’s brother, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al-Maktum, is also a defendant in the lawsuit.


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