Bide Majakoti knows the horror of forced labor 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 he was forced to accept a different job and his nightmare began.
Unfortunately, as construction for the football World Cup 2022 intensifies, more migrant workers will be vulnerable to forced labor than ever before.
Over 90% of Qatar’s workforce are migrant workers, brought to the country under kafala, the ‘sponsorship’ system.1 It is a foreign worker sponsorship programme that jeopardises basic human rights of migrant workers, allowing slavery-like conditions to flourish leaving thousands vulnerable to forced labor and other human rights abuses.
Bide was forced to work 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 returned home to tell his story, thousands of others never get that chance.
Many others’ experiences are even worse; 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.2
Right now we have an opportunity to help. The Ministry of Labor made promises to make substantial reform to the kafala system, ensuring the protection of migrant workers.3
Last year, we were pleased to see that the government of Qatar had introduced new laws to reform the kafala system.4 These reforms allow workers to leave undesirable jobs and freely seek employment elsewhere.
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.5
When the World Cup is over, there will be less eyes on Qatar and less urgency for the government to implement these crucial reforms.
Call on the Ministry of Labor to deliver on critical reforms they promised and end forced labor in Qatar.
Watch ‘Undercover film of life inside Qatar’s labor camps’ by Equal Times
- https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde22/3548/2016/en/ ↩
- https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/middle-east-and-north-africa/qatar/report-qatar/ ↩
- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-34972384 ↩
- https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/feb/23/revealed-migrant-worker-deaths-qatar-fifa-world-cup-2022?CMP=share_btn_tw ↩
- https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2021/3/15/labour-law-changes-are-qatars-migrant-workers-better-off ↩