Qatar: Football associations - ask FIFA to pay up! - FreedomUnited.org

End Forced Labor in Qatar

Bide Majakoti knows the horror of forced labor and modern day slavery in Qatar first-hand. He travelled from Nepal on the promise of a well-paid job and paid high recruitment fees to secure it. When he arrived in Qatar he was forced to accept a different job and his nightmare with exploitation and modern slavery began.

As preparations for the football 2022 World Cup infrastructure intensify, more low-paid migrant workers in construction, hospitality and other key sectors will be vulnerable to forced labor under Qatar’s kafala system. Over 90% of Qatar’s workers are foreign workers, brought to the country under kafala, the ‘sponsorship’ system. It is a worker sponsorship program that jeopardizes basic  human rights of migrant workers, allowing working conditions that amount to modern slavery to  flourish. This system has left thousands of migrant workers in Qatar vulnerable to forced labor and other human rights abuses, often without the ability to change jobs or even leave the country.

Since 2018, the Qatari government and the International Labour Organization have collaborated on a series of reforms to the kafala sponsorship system.

In 2020, the Emir of Qatar abolished restrictions on migrant workers changing jobs without their employer’s permission and introduced a monthly minimum wage of 1,000 Qatari riyal, in addition to giving basic living allowances for some workers. Previously, migrant workers required a ‘No Objection Certificate’ from their employer to demonstrate they had their employers’ permission to change jobs. Furthermore, a Wage Protection System was announced to ensure migrant workers’ are receiving their wages from employers.

Hailed as “ambitious and comprehensive” these reforms signaled the beginning of potentially transformative legislation governing low-paid migrant workers in the country. However, a lack of enforcement and effective implementation of reforms continues to present barriers to low-paid migrant workers exercising their rights and seeking remedy for abuses committed against them.

Bide was forced to do his job in terrible working conditions, in the blistering heat without safety precautions or pay. With no other option open to him, he returned home saddled with debt. While Bide ultimately left his job and returned home to tell his story, thousands of other employees never get that chance. Many others’ experiences are even worse; construction workers often have their  wages withheld, are denied exit visas, are housed in dirty, unsafe conditions and forced to work long hours with little rest despite the high heat.

Now is the time to keep up the pressure. Qatar’s Ministry of Labor made promises to make substantial reforms to the kafala system, ensuring the protection of migrant workers.

Though we were pleased to see that the Qatari government had introduced new laws to reform the kafala system, full implementation is still lacking. Activists and lawyers working on the ground say that a lack of sufficient resources and the sheer volume of cases is the real cause of the lag for the new law.

“They’ve only abolished the kafala system on paper. It’s the same if not harder to change jobs” says Malcolm Bidali, an activist and blogger on migrant rights who worked under exploitative conditions in Qatar as a security guard.

When the 2022 World Cup is over, there will be less eyes on Qatar and less urgency for the Qatar government to implement these crucial reforms, protect workers rights and freedom.

Call on the Qatari authorities to deliver on the critical reforms they promised and end forced labor. Help improve the working conditions of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in Qatar.

 

Watch ‘Undercover film of life inside Qatar’s labor camps’ by Equal Times

  • August 30, 2020: Qatar has taken promising steps towards dismantling the abusive kafala system by abolishing restrictions on migrant workers changing jobs without their employer’s permission and introduced a monthly minimum wage of 1,000 Qatari riyal. Read more here.

  • COVID-19 Update: Low-paid migrant workers are already among the most vulnerable to modern slavery. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these risks are heightened. For those who cross borders, the risk is even higher because their immigration status is easily leveraged, leaving them without access to legal protections or basic health care. Read more here.

  • February 20, 2020: A Human Rights Watch investigation has uncovered months of delayed wages by a World Cup-linked employer in Qatar, putting in doubt the effectiveness of the government’s much-touted protection mechanisms. Read more here.

  • October 17, 2019: In a major development, Qatar is set to finally abolish its notorious “kafala” system in January according to an announcement from the International Labour Organization. Read more…

  • August 8, 2019: Hundreds of migrant workers in Qatar went on strike to protest labor conditions and the the failure of the Qatari government to fully abolish the exploitative kafala visa sponsorship scheme that puts workers at risk of forced labor.

  • May 05, 2016: Campaign Launches

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Lucimar CA Costa
5 days ago

It is not possible that in the 21st century people be enslaved by inhumane people with the intention of obtaining profits at the expense of others.

Diane
Diane
2 days ago

It’s evil how wicked humans can be to other humans all for greed , people in authority know and let it go on which makes them even as bad, maybe paid to turn a blind eye! It’s amazing how far we have come , yet some still even more barbaric than ever seeing as we are meant to be civilised , we’ll some of us are!

Rosie Adams
3 days ago

It is time all forms of slavery, in this, the 21st Century, were abolished. No exceptions.

Stephen George Murray
Stephen George Murray
4 days ago

Get those workers paid. They have done your work, and now you need to pay them. Gt them paid you dirty tight skinflints!!

Peter
Peter
4 days ago

Excellent that Freedom United is in the ” Game ‘ bringing the issue of Forced Labor to such a high profile world event as the 2022 World Cup .

Football Associations: support calls on FIFA to pay up for migrant workers!

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To Football Associations:

I am concerned about continuous reports of migrant worker exploitation amounting to forced labor and migrant worker deaths that have tarnished the Qatar World Cup set to take place in November 2022.

As a Football Associations participating in the Qatar World Cup I am urging you to make a public statement available on your website in support of migrant workers’ rights, compensation, and non-repetition of human rights abuses in future World Cups, and advocate with FIFA and Qatar to set up a remedy fund that could help to transform the lives of the migrant workers and their families.

This amount should at least be equivalent to the US$440 million prize money provided to teams participating in the 2022 World Cup that can be invested in funds to compensate workers, and initiatives to improve workers' protections.

Thousands of migrant workers involved in construction, hospitality and other key areas of infrastructure required for the World Cup to take place in Qatar have suffered abuses amounting forced labor, including debt bondage, wage theft, being prevented from changing employers, forced to work excessive hours, and having identity documents withheld by unscrupulous employers.

When migrant workers have tried to protest against their poor conditions, they have faced arrest and deportation. Thousands more workers have died due to unexplained causes, leaving their families in their home countries with no financial support.

As national Football Associations you have the power to support calls on FIFA to ensure that there is a robust compensation and remedy plan in place for migrant workers and their families.

There is no amount of money that can make up for the loss of a loved one, or the dehumanising exploitation that thousands have suffered. However, a compensation fund will ensure migrant workers and their families are at the very least paid the wages owed to them.

Sincerely,

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