Amnesty report documents workers abuse in Qatar

New report from Amnesty International exposes abuse of migrant construction workers in Qatar. Photo: Shell/Flickr

18.11.2013

Migrant workers in Qatar's construction sector are exposed to routine abuse and exploitation, argues a new report from Amnesty International released yesterday, which calls on FIFA to address the issue.

The Amnesty International report, titled “The Dark Side of Migration: Spotlight on Qatar’s construction sector ahead of the World Cup”, has taken a closer look at the working conditions for migrant construction workers in Qatar and found widespread exploitation by their employers.

The abuse specified in the report, which supports previous findings from Human Rights Watch and the International Trades Union Congress, include lower salaries than promised, workers having their pay withheld for months, workers having their passports confiscated, little protection of workers’ health and squalid living conditions, among others.

"Construction companies and the Qatari authorities alike are failing migrant workers. Employers in Qatar have displayed an appalling disregard for the basic human rights of migrant workers. Many are taking advantage of a permissive environment and lax enforcement of labour protections to exploit construction workers", says Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

Many officials at the Ministries of Labour and Interior expressed that they are committed to protecting the rights of migrant workers, but the problem was often downplayed and most officials argued that workers’ abuse happened in isolated incidents and was not a general problem, Amnesty found.

"The world’s spotlight will continue to shine on Qatar in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup offering the government a unique chance to demonstrate on a global stage that they are serious about their commitment to human rights and can act as a role model to the rest of the region," said Shetty.

The organisers of the Qatar World Cup insist that they are taking workers’ rights seriously.

“For us we’ve always said that the World Cup is a tool that has the power of accelerating progress on different fronts and we believe in that,” said Nasser Al-Khater, communications & marketing director at Qatar 2022, to World Football Insider.

“We’ve always said that we are committed to ensuring that the workers working on Qatar 2022 are offered the safety, security and dignity they deserve.”

The report also urges FIFA to take action and address the exploitation of workers in Qatar: "FIFA must engage closely with Q22 and the Qatari authorities, to ensure that these issues are addressed as a matter of urgency. Preventing these abuses cannot wait. FIFA must send a strong message to the Qatari authorities and the construction sector that human rights must be respected in all World Cup related construction projects", writes the report.

Download the Amnesty International report “The Dark Side of Migration: Spotlight on Qatar’s construction sector ahead of the World Cup”

Read more on Amnesty International's website

Source: Amnesty International, World Football Insider

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