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Stop the abuse of migrant workers in Qatar

December 22, 2013
tags:#Qatar, #worker's rights
org:Amnesty International
Every hour the population of Qatar increases by 20 people, with Qatar recruiting migrant workers at a remarkable rate to support its construction boom.

The vast majority of these migrant workers come from South and Southeast Asia and are seeking a better life for themselves and their families back home.

But once in Qatar, migrant workers are open to numerous forms of abuse, through weakly enforced labour standards and a system of “sponsorship”, which allows unscrupulous companies to exploit them; in some cases migrant workers are in situations of forced labour.

Migrant workers’ salaries are often withheld for months, or not paid at all. They have to obtain permission from their employers to leave Qatar and 90% of workers have their passports held by their employers. This can leave many migrant workers without the means to get home, trapped in a foreign country, and alone.

Living and working conditions are frequently dire. Small, cramped, unhygienic dormitories are common and workers are sometimes made to work very long hours in temperatures that can reach 45 degrees Celsius in spite of regulations which should prevent this.

Qatar’s multi-billion dollar construction industry is set to grow as the country prepares to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Work on stadiums for the tournament is set to begin imminently, and the wider infrastructure to support the event is already under construction. With more than 100 billion dollars expected to be poured into construction in Qatar over the next 10 years the rights of migrant workers are more at risk than ever.

#BlowTheWhistle and join Amnesty International in calling for the Government of Qatar to enforce international labour standards and reform the sponsorship system so that migrant workers are not left at the mercy of their employers.

Please join our call to the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani and sign the petition below:

We are extremely concerned and deeply saddened about the situation of migrant workers employed in Qatar’s construction industry.

With the eyes of the world on Qatar as preparations for the FIFA 2022 World Cup gather pace, we urge you to take bold steps to protect the rights of migrant workers, to avoid their exploitation becoming Qatar’s legacy. We call on you to:

• Enforce the protections for workers already in Qatar’s laws, including by strengthening the labour inspection system, ensuring that workers do not have their passports confiscated, and abolishing fees charged to workers filing cases of abuse against employers; and
• Fundamentally reform the sponsorship (kafala) system, including by removing the “exit permit” requirement, which means that migrant workers have to get the permission of their employer before leaving the country.

Migrant workers' accomodation in Qatar © Shaival Dalal