Migrant labourers work on a construction site on October 3, 2013 in Doha
Migrant labourers work on a construction site on October 3, 2013 in Doha © Karim Jaafar - Al-Watan Doha/AFP/File
Migrant labourers work on a construction site on October 3, 2013 in Doha
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AFP
Last updated: November 12, 2014

Amnesty accuses Qatar of foot-dragging on labour rights

Banner Icon Amnesty International on Wednesday criticised "woefully insufficient" steps taken by Qatar so far to end abuses of migrant workers building facilities for the controversial 2022 World Cup.

"Urgent action is needed to ensure we do not end up with a World Cup tournament that is built on forced labour and exploitation," said the head of Amnesty's department for refugee and migrant rights, Sherif Elsayed-Ali.

Four years after the tiny gas-rich nation won the bid to host the football tournament, Qatar's response "to migrant labour abuses has not been much more than promises of action and draft laws," he said in a statement.

The treatment of migrant workers in Qatar has sparked international criticism following reports of alleged deaths at construction sites.

In May, Qatar gave undertakings to improve workplace safety, housing, pay and conditions for its expatriate workforce after world football's governing body FIFA came under huge pressure from rights groups to review its decision to award the emirate the 2022 World Cup.

"Six months later, only a handful of the limited measures announced in May have even been partially implemented," said Elsayed-Ali.

"Overall the steps taken so far are woefully insufficient."

In an interview with CNN on September 26, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim insisted that laws have been changed.

"They are enforced and there are many laws that have been changed," the Qatari ruler said.

But Elsayed-Ali accused the Qatari government of "dragging its feet over some of the most fundamental changes needed such as abolishing the exit permit and overhauling its abusive sponsorship system."

The International Trade Union Confederation warned in June that as many as 4,000 migrant workers could die in construction site accidents by the time the 2022 tournament kicks off.

"By failing to act quickly to address the gaping holes in its human rights record, Qatar risks seriously damaging its credibility and calling into question its commitment to human rights," Elsayed-Ali said.

The London-based watchdog called for "concrete" steps by Qatar to "unambiguously abolish the exit permit" and "launch an independent investigation into the causes of migrant workers' deaths."

It also urged Doha to "drop prohibitive fees for workers to raise court cases against employers" and "publish the names of exploitative recruiters and employers."

Qatar's hosting of the tournament has also been shaken by accusations of bribery in the bidding process. as well as the dates of the tournament because of the searing summer temperatures in the Gulf state.

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