Wednesday, August 17

Amnesty Report: Qatari migrant workers caught and exploited ahead of the World Cup | World Cup 2022

Reforms in Qatar have stalled with a year to go before the World Cup, leaving thousands of migrant workers trapped and exploited, according to a damning new report from Amnesty International.

Last year, Qatar passed two laws to end restrictions on migrant workers leaving the country or changing jobs without their employer’s permission, which were very well received. However, Amnesty has accused the authorities of “complacency” in the application of the laws and says it has led to the resurgence of the worst elements of the kafala system, which links workers to their employer.

A new 48-page Amnesty report, Reality Check 2021, quotes a migrant worker who says her employer threatened her when she wanted to change jobs and told her that she had to pay 6,000 Qatari rials (£ 1,200), more than five times her monthly salary. – for a certificate of no objection or else it will be sent home.

Although the change in the law should have allowed him to change jobs freely, the complaint he presented to the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs was rejected, says Amnesty.

Other practices, such as withholding of wages and benefits to make it difficult for workers to leave their jobs, also continue, according to Amnesty.

“The apparent complacency of authorities is leaving thousands of workers at continued risk of exploitation by unscrupulous employers, many of whom are unable to change jobs and face wage theft,” said Mark Dummett, program director for the global affairs of the human rights organization.

“They have little hope of reparation, compensation or justice. After the World Cup, the fate of the workers who remain in Qatar will be even more uncertain. “

Qatar’s treatment of its 2 million migrant workforce has come under unrelenting scrutiny since it won the right to host the competition in 2010.

In August, Amnesty also accused the country of failing to investigate the deaths of thousands of migrant workers in the last decade.

He has now urged FIFA to call on the Qatari government to comply with its labor reform program before the opening match of the World Cup on November 21 next year.

“Qatar is one of the richest countries in the world, but its economy depends on the 2 million migrant workers who live there,” Dummett said. “By sending a clear signal that labor abuses will not be tolerated, by penalizing employers who break the law and protecting workers’ rights, Qatar can provide us with a tournament that we can all celebrate. But this has not yet been achieved. “

Sacha Deshmukh, executive director of Amnesty International UK, said the Football Association could do more to put pressure on the authorities in Doha. “The exploitation of Qatar’s massive migrant workforce has already cast a dark shadow over next year’s World Cup, and the FA should use the remaining year until the start to push for lasting labor reforms in Qatar,” he said.

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“FA is part of the Uefa Working Group on Workers’ Rights in Qatar and it can pressure the Doha authorities to strengthen protection for migrant workers, investigate worker deaths, and help design a tournament with a genuinely positive legacy.

“It is more important than ever that England’s coaching staff, players and supporters raise human rights issues before the start of next year.”

In a statement, the Qatari government said it rejected Amnesty’s claim that labor reforms have not translated into changes on the ground for migrant workers.

“Amnesty does not document a single story of the 242,870 workers who have successfully changed jobs since barriers were removed in September 2020, or the more than 400,000 workers who have directly benefited from the new minimum wage through increases. wages and other financial incentives, “it said.

“Since exit permits were withdrawn in 2018, hundreds of thousands of workers have left Qatar and returned without the permission of their employer; Improvements to the Wage Protection System now protect more than 96% of eligible workers from wage abuse; new visa centers in labor-issuing countries have significantly reduced exploitative practices before workers arrive in Qatar; and the new rules expand the summer work ban to minimize the effects of heat stress.

“In the first half of 2021, 35,280 inspections of accommodation and workplaces were carried out and 13,724 sanctions were issued to the offending companies, including closures of workplaces, fines and prison sentences. Labor inspectors made another 4,840 visits to the site to introduce employers and employees to the new laws. Systemic reform is a long-term process and changing the behavior of all companies takes time. “

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