Amnesty International has issued a statement saying that Qatar is in danger of falling behind on its pledge to tackle the exploitation of migrant labourers working on infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup.
Amnesty’s report, titled: "Reality Check: The State of Migrant Workers’ Rights", noted that Qatar has not fully abolished the kafala system, which can tie workers to employers for up to five years.
The human rights group said the system had been partially reformed, but that workers still could not change jobs without their employer’s permission and many faced charges for "absconding".
In November 2017, Qatar signed an agreement with the UN International Labour Organisation to change its laws to meet international standards.
Since the agreement, Qatar has:
- Introduced a temporary minimum wage of $200 a month
- Set up a committee to address labour disputes – which Amnesty say is "overwhelmed"
- Founded a fund for workers’ support and insurance
- Stopped exit permits for foreign workers, which required their employer’s permission.
Amnesty said despite the measures, migrant workers are still at risk of forced labour and restrictions on their movement, and domestic workers are still required to obtain an "exit permit" in order to leave the country.
Stephen Cockburn, Amnesty’s deputy director of global issues, said: "Time is running out if the Qatari authorities want to deliver a legacy we can all cheer – a labour system that ends the abuse and misery inflicted upon so many migrant workers every day.
"The Qatari authorities have been taking some important steps to protect labour rights, but much more needs to be done. Holes in the reforms to date mean many workers are still stuck in harsh conditions, vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, while those who return home do so empty-handed, with no compensation and no justice."
In November 2014, Amnesty said Qatar’s response to worker abuse ‘was "woefully insufficient", in May 2017 it said Qatar’s labour reforms "risk being seen as PR stunt", and in May 2017 it said World Cup labours in Qatar "continue to suffer abuse and exploitation".
Image: Workers in Doha, Qatar (Giuseppemasci/Dreamstime)