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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 July, 2005, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
Emirates tightens camel race laws
Child camel jockeys in Qatar
Young children have continued as jockeys despite legislation
The United Arab Emirates has passed a law tightening a ban on children taking part in camel racing.

Under-18s are not to take part in camel racing "in any form", says a decree signed by the president.

Gulf states have been under fire over the sport, in which young children, many of them trafficked from South Asia, have been trained as jockeys.

Anti-slavery groups say about 3,000 boys, some as young as four, work as jockeys in the Emirates.

Violations of the decree - which covers training and looking after racing camels - carry a penalty of three years' jail or a fine of 50,000 dirhams ($13,600), the official news agency WAM reported.

Correspondents say that, until the decree, Gulf states have largely failed to respond to international demands to act to prevent underage jockeys.

Using children has officially been banned in the UAE since 1980. Earlier this year it tightened the rules, banning under-16s and those lighter than 45kg (100lb) from racing.

It also agreed with the United Nations on a plan to repatriate underage jockeys trafficked from poorer countries.

Both the Emirates and Qatar are planning to replace child jockeys with mechanical ones in the near future.

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Country profile: United Arab Emirates
04 Nov 04 |  Country profiles

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