Amnesty says Qatar’s labour reforms “risk being seen as PR stunt”

A report by Amnesty International has said the pledges Qatar made last year to reform its labour laws 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".

The report found that despite the proposed reforms, little had changed over the past year in "law, policy and practice" for more than 1.5 million migrant workers.

Mustafa Qadri, a Gulf migrant rights researcher at Amnesty, said: "Qatar is failing migrant workers. Last year the government made promises to improve migrant labour rights, but in practice there have been no significant advances."

Although there had not been "significant" advances, Amnesty conceded that there had been "limited progress" in five of nine labour rights issues that it raised, including measures to improve safety on construction sites and the regulation of exploitative recruitment agencies.

The reality is that more than a year and half after Amnesty highlighted rampant exploitation of migrants, little has been done to address the root causes of this abuse– Mustafa Qadri, Amnesty International

Amnesty said authorities had failed to make any improvements on four other issues, including changes to the kafala system, freedom to form or join trade union and the right to an exit permit.

Qadri said: "The lack of a clear roadmap of targets and benchmarks for reform leaves serious doubts about Qatar’s commitment to tackling migrant labour abuse."

Qatar also failed to keep its promise to have 300 labour inspectors in place by the end of 2014.

Sponsors of the World Cup such as Coca-Cola and Visa have been pressuring FIFA, world football’s governing body, over the continued claims of migrant worker abuse.

Qadri said FIFA "has yet to demonstrate any real commitment to ensuring Qatar 2022 is not built on a foundation of exploitation and abuse". He added that the association "must work closely with the government, the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee and major corporate partners to prevent abuses linked to the staging of the World Cup".

Worker accommodation in Doha (Amnesty International)

FIFA is in the process of electing a new president.

Last week journalists who were in Qatar to report on labourers working in Qatar for the World Cup were "thrown into prison".

Qatar has promised that the reforms it announced will be implemented by the end of this year.

Read the full Amnesty report here.

Last November, Amnesty described Qatar’s response to worker abuse as "woefully insufficient". In the same month it came to light that workers from North Korea who are employed in Qatar’s construction industry may be receiving only 10% of their salary.

It was announced earlier this month that Qatar was to build seven worker cities.

Image: Workers in Qatar (Amnesty International)

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