Spot­light back on work­ers rights in Qatar

Gulf Business - - GCC TODAY -

As the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the tiny Gulf state of Qatar has at­tracted un­prece­dented in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion and scru­tiny, es­pe­cially for the treat­ment of its vast mi­grant worker pop­u­la­tion.

Af­ter the is­sue es­ca­lated last year and the coun­try re­ceived a se­vere back­lash, Qatar ac­knowl­edged that there was a prob­lem. It promised to in­tro­duce new reg­u­la­tions and re­forms to en­sure that work­ers in the coun­try are treated fairly and pro­vided with bet­ter fa­cil­i­ties.

How­ever, a year on, the coun­try con­tin­ues to be mired in the same con­tentious sit­u­a­tion.

In a scathing re­port last month, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional said Qatar had not made any “sig­nif­i­cant ad­vances” to im­prove the lives of the 1.5 mil­lion mi­grant work­ers in the coun­try.

Out of the nine mi­grant labour rights is­sues high­lighted, the re­port said late “limited progress” had been made on five, while au­thor­i­ties had “failed to make any im­prove­ments” in the other four.

“With­out prompt ac­tion, the pledges Qatar made last year are at se­ri­ous risk of be­ing dis­missed as a mere public re­la­tions stunt to en­sure the Gulf state can cling on to the 2022 World Cup,” said Amnesty Re­searcher Mustafa Qadri.

The re­port also urged FIFA to pres­surise the Gulf state to do more. “FIFA has yet to demon­strate any real com­mit­ment to en­sur­ing Qatar 2022 is not built on a foun­da­tion of ex­ploita­tion and abuse,” Qadri said.

How­ever, Qatar re­but­ted the re­port, with a state­ment from the Min­istry of Labour and So­cial Af­fairs stat­ing that “sig­nif­i­cant changes” had been made in the coun­try. The min­istry said it had in­creased the num­ber of labour in­spec­tors; launched a wage pro­tec­tion sys­tem and an e-pay­ment sys­tem to en­sure salaries are paid on time; and pro­vided for bet­ter ac­com­mo­da­tion fa­cil­i­ties.

Qatar still has close to seven years be­fore the World Cup, but if it truly wants to draw the crowds and en­sure a smooth and un­for­get­table tour­na­ment, it needs to do much more to con­vince the world that it does not vi­o­late the rights of those help­ing build the coun­try.

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