End Forced Labor in Qatar - 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.

Unfortunately, as construction for the football 2022 World Cup intensifies, more migrant construction workers will be vulnerable to forced labor and Qatar slavery than ever before. 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 slavery-like working conditions to  flourish leaving 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.

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.

Right now we have an opportunity to help. The Ministry of Labor made promises to make substantial reforms to the kafala system, ensuring the protection of migrant workers.

Last year, we were pleased to see that the Qatari government had introduced new laws to reform the kafala system.  These reforms allow employees to leave undesirable jobs and freely seek employment elsewhere to avoid exploitation, receive better monthly minimum wage and working conditions.

But, several months later, 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.

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

Chip in and help end modern slavery once and for all.

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Steve S
Steve S
2 years ago

I would like to see the fans boycott the world Cup on mass, and leave the owners and contractors who employ these unfortunate tradesmen with an empty stadium and an absolutely crippling debt.

If this is the way that Qatar treats the people who build its country, they are not the world beating people they want us to believe.
They are marching straight back to the stone age, with their eyes firmly closed.

Visit Qatar and take a selfie with the slaves. “How’s that for a holiday slogan”.

Annamarie Jones
4 years ago

Sounds like some places I know in the United States,but I guess that helped Qatar become the wealthiest nation in the world, slave labor — SHAME – – SHAME –As it says in Proverbs better to be poor & honest, then rich & a cheater i.e. cheating people out of a living wage

Victor Croasdale
Victor Croasdale
1 year ago

Whilst the US was built on slave labor and Indian bones, Qatar’s wealth comes from oil and gas. The widespread slave labor came later.

I lived in Qatar and Saudi Arabia for most of the 1980’s. In Saudi, I had women with law and teaching degrees from the Philippines working as hospital cleaners because they made more money in Saudi than at home. I had some really good Filipino technicians working for about $100 a month.

Peter Matthews
Peter Matthews
2 years ago

Another very effective way to show Qatar and other neighbouring countries that abuse emigrant workers is not to visit them or use their airlines.

John Bedigan
John Bedigan
3 years ago

You stop these barbarians when you stop doing business with them. The rotten corrupt football world should have pulled the plug on the world cup, knowing well what was going on, but completely brainless, money mad soulless footie players, their entourages, minders and bosses don’t give damn. Governments of all hues desperate for arms sales and industrial contracts, a piece of the petro-chemical El Dorado ensures the slavery is ignored. There’s nothing new here.

7 months ago
Reply to  John Bedigan

Hear hear, this is as bad as all the money grabbing companies that operate in our societies e.g. Amazon, Google etc. Our politicians are just as bad for allowing such behaviour by companies and those in charge of decisions at top levels!

Bernice Taylor
Bernice Taylor
3 years ago
Reply to  John Bedigan

Well said. My sentiments exactly!

3 years ago
Reply to  John Bedigan

Well said!

Javara Nova
Javara Nova
2 years ago

FIFA, as an international body must stand up for justice and humanity. If it is unable to do that then they are worth nothing. BOYCOTT THE GAMES IN QATAR!
What will it take for Qatar to develop a heart… compassion for their fellow human beings?

Dan McCaughern
Dan McCaughern
1 year ago
Reply to  Javara Nova

Agree with you Javara. But then wouldn’t the FIFA officials have to hand their bribes back?

Qatar: End forced labor

Help us reach 100,000 actions

Dr. Issa bin Saad Al-Jafali Al-Nuaimi, Minister for administrative development, labor and social affairs,

Your Excellency,

While I applaud you for your public commitment to reform the kafala system in Qatar, the changes made to date are insufficient to protect migrant workers from forced labor and exploitation.

I ask that you take further steps to end forced labor by:

  1. Introducing and enforcing penalties on employers where the practice of contract substitution takes place, that forces workers to accept lower wages on arrival into Qatar.
  1. Ensuring migrant workers’ passports are returned, and that workers hold their own passports and are given their worker IDs, through more effective enforcement and implementation of current laws targeting employers.
  1. Removing impediments to workers leaving the country, and changing employers including any employer objections to exit visas.

Whilst these are important first steps in the fight to ensure basic worker rights, there is a need to go much further towards ending the abuse of migrant workers’ rights.

Thank you for your leadership on this issue and I look forward to hearing further announcements and details of substantive reforms to end modern slavery in Qatar.


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