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Amnesty International slams Qatar's failure to provide for migrant workers

IANS
FEATURED WRITER
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1.67K   //    21 May 2015, 20:57 IST
Qatar World Cup human rights protest
File photo of people protesting the problems faced by migrant workers in Qatar

London, May 21 Human rights watchdog Amnesty International has accused the Qatari government of failing to deliver on promises to improve conditions for migrant workers, who have a majority currently working to prepare infrastructure for the FIFA 2022 World Cup, to be held in the country.

"Hopes of true progress are fading fast," the organisation published in its report on Thursday entitled "Promising little, delivering less: Qatar and migrant labour abuse ahead of the 2022 World Cup", reports Efe.

"Over the last 12 months, little has changed in law, policy and practice for the more than 1.5 million migrant workers in Qatar who remain at the mercy of their sponsors and employers," the report noted.

Regarding crucial issues such as the exit permit, the restriction on changing employers under Qatar's sponsor-based Kafala system, protection of domestic workers and the freedom to form or join labour unions, the report concluded that there has been no progress made whatsoever.

No advances in protection of human rights in Qatar

"Qatar is failing migrant workers. Last year the government made promises to improve migrant labour rights in Qatar, but in practice, there have been no significant advances in the protection of rights," Mustafa Qadri, Gulf migrant rights researcher for Amnesty International said on Thursday.

"The lack of a clear roadmap of targets and benchmarks for reform leaves serious doubts about Qatar's commitment to tackling migrant labour abuse. Without prompt action, the pledges Qatar made last year are at serious risk of being dismissed as a mere public relations stunt to ensure the Gulf state can cling on to the 2022 World Cup," Qadri added.

FIFA is set to elect its new president on May 29, while Qadri argued that the international body has a clear responsibility to prioritise the issue of exploitation of migrant workers in Qatar, and must publicly and privately call on the Qatari authorities to implement effective reforms to protect migrant worker rights.

In November 2013, a report published by Amnesty revealed that abuse and exploitation of migrant construction workers were rampant, and in some cases amounted to forced labour.

Although Qatar has since repeatedly expressed a strong desire to stamp out abuses, for many migrants, very little has changed.

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