UAE royal household faces trial in Brussels over slavery

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[Belgium]–Not less than eight members of the Abu Dhabi royal household have been accused of treating 20 domestic workers like slaves and are currently being tried in absentia in Brussels on Thursday.

The eight members of the royal household include Princess Hamda Alnehayan, the widow of the sheikh of Abu Dhabi, and her seven daughters.

According to Patricia LeCocq, spokesperson for the Belgian human rights organization, “the servants were not paid, they worked day and night and had to sleep on the floor. The princesses shouted at them and abused them continually.”

The lawyers defending the ‘slaves’ further stated that the domestic workers, who had been hired as nannies, cooks and domestic helpers, had to be at the princesses’ disposal day and night, and were never allowed to leave the property.

The Belgian media has however, reported that the royal family’s lawyer repeatedly claimed police had violated the princesses’ rights by searching their hotel rooms.

Recall that in 2008, Police officers and officials from Belgium’s Labour Audit Authority had raided the Conrad Hotel, the city’s most prestigious and the preferred choice of many national leaders during European Union summits.

The operation was triggered by the apparent escape of a maid who was among 20 servants working for the widow of a senior royal figure from the United Arab Emirates and her four daughters who have rented the entire fourth floor of the hotel for the preceeding year.

Officials took away 17 people, from countries including the Philippines, Morocco, India, Egypt, Turkey, Iraq and Syria, amid allegations that they had been held captive for eight months.

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