Pak SC seeks report on children as jockeys in camel races

Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Friday directed the government to provide a detailed report on action taken against persons involved in the trafficking of children.

Last Updated: May 14, 2010, 20:18 PM IST

Islamabad: Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Friday
directed the government to provide a detailed report on action
taken against persons involved in the trafficking of children
used as jockeys in camel races in Middle Eastern countries.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar
Chaudhry directed the Interior Secretary to inform the court
about all agencies involved in monitoring the movement of
children outside the country and whether any case had been
registered regarding the trafficking of children.

The court asked the government to submit the report at
the next hearing on June 11.

During today’s proceedings, the Chief Justice observed
that the smuggling of Pakistani children for use as jockeys in
camel racing is a serious issue.

The bench also said that a report submitted earlier by
the Interior Secretary did not indicate that any action had
been taken against officers responsible for any lapses.

Additional Secretary Shabbir Ahmed of the interior
ministry informed the bench that USD 1.13 million had been
distributed as compensation to parents of children who were
illegally used as jockeys.

The director of the legal branch of the foreign
ministry said that the United Arab Emirates had promulgated a
law which prohibited the use of children aged less than 16
years or weighing below 45 kg as camel jockeys.

During the course of the hearing, an interior ministry
official also informed the court that a cabinet committee is
preparing recommendations on the issue of human trafficking,
especially the smuggling of children for use as jockeys in
camel racing.

The official said a total of 810 child jockeys had
been returned to Pakistan.

The official, however, failed to satisfy the court on
several issues raised by the bench.

The Chief Justice made it clear that immigration laws
should not be violated.

"Human trafficking is a menace all over the world,"
the top judge remarked.

Chief Justice Chaudhry had taken suo moto notice of
the use of Pakistani children as jockeys in Middle Eastern
countries after a man named Tahir Ali filed an application.

Ali said in his application that the UAE should pay
around USD 1.4 million in damages for the illegal smuggling
and use of Pakistani children as jockeys.

According to some estimates, a total of 12,000
Pakistani children were illegally smuggled from the country to
the Middle East.

In 2005, the UAE government banned the use of children
in camel racing and this led to the repatriation of 3,000
children to the country.

According to a report of the Human Rights Commission
of Pakistan, the practice of trafficking children from
Pakistan for use as jockeys began in 1979.

PTI