In a new briefing, Amnesty International has urged Qatar to “not drop the ball” on workers rights and to ensure its promising labor reforms are properly enforced.
Qatar has come under increased international scrutiny for its treatment of migrant workers ever since it was awarded the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
In common with many of its neighbors, Qatar has long maintained a version of the kafala system, which effectively ties migrant workers to their employers and has been called a form of modern slavery by many.
Over the past few years, Qatar has chipped away at kafala with several key reforms, including new regulation of work hours, the ratification of two crucial human rights treaties, and the creation of a fund to facilitate compensation for unpaid wages.
However, labor abuses and modern slavery have endured as a result of poor enforcement.
In its new analysis, Amnesty International said that while the reforms were promising they would do little for migrant workers without further action and proper enforcement.
Amnesty International reports:
“In recent years Qatar has introduced a series of major reforms, including amending laws to give workers freedom of movement and allow them greater job mobility. It has also promised better pay and access to justice in cases of abuse. But many migrant workers have not yet benefited from these changes. Until these reforms are fully enforced, many will remain trapped in a cycle of exploitation,” said Steve Cockburn, Head of Economic and Social Justice at Amnesty International.
“Positive reforms have too often been undermined by weak implementation and an unwillingness to hold abusive employers to account. Inspection systems are inadequate to detect abuse, and it remains challenging for workers to lodge complaints without risking their income and legal status. Qatar needs to do much more to ensure legislation has a tangible impact on people’s lives.”
A recent investigation, also from Amnesty International, found that construction workers on World Cup sites went unpaid for months, despite authorities’ awareness of the issue.
Amnesty International offices around the world are urging FIFA and national football associations to take a stand for Qatar’s migrant workers and push for reforms to be implemented before 2022.
Freedom United has gathered over 90,000 signatures calling on Qatar to end the kafala system once and for all and ensure its migrant workers are free from exploitation.
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