Amnesty International: Qatar must deliver promised labor reforms

LONDON: Qatar must deliver on all promised labor reforms now and beyond the World Cup, Amnesty International said on Thursday.

The human rights organization repeated calls for FIFA and Qatar to establish a compensation fund for migrant workers who have been abused in the Gulf country.

A final pre-tournament briefing on the condition of migrant workers revealed that widespread abuses continue across the country.

A revamp of Qatar’s labor system since 2017 has led to some noticeable improvements for the 2 million migrants working in the country but a lack of effective implementation and enforcement means that workers are still facing abuses, the rights body said.

These include being denied days off, working in dangerous conditions, having limited access to the justice system, not being paid on time or at all, and facing barriers when changing jobs.

The deaths of thousands of migrant workers remain uninvestigated and hundreds of these fatalities were likely a consequence of working in the extreme heat.

“Although Qatar has made important strides on labor rights over the past five years, it’s abundantly clear that there is a great distance still to go. Thousands of workers remain stuck in the familiar cycle of exploitation and abuse thanks to legal loopholes and inadequate enforcement,” Amnesty International’s Head of Economic and Social Justice Steve Cockburn said.

“With the World Cup looming, the job of protecting migrant workers from exploitation is only half done, while that of compensating those who have suffered abuses has barely started.

“It’s also imperative that Qatar commits to improving conditions in the long term. Progress must not grind to a halt once the World Cup roadshow leaves Doha,” Cockburn added.

A global poll commissioned by Amnesty International in September revealed overwhelming support among both the general public and football fans for the compensation of migrant workers who suffered during preparations for the 2022 World Cup.

The findings support the #PayUpFIFA campaign launched by a coalition of human rights organizations, fan groups, and trade unions in May 2022, which calls on the football association and the Qatari authorities to establish a comprehensive remediation program to compensate workers and prevent future abuses.

“Despite huge and growing support in favor of compensating migrant workers among fans, football associations, and sponsors, Qatar and FIFA are still not budging. With only a month to go, time is fast running out for them to do the right thing,” Cockburn said.

“Turning a blind eye to the abuses suffered by thousands of migrant workers over the years flies in the face of their respective international obligations and responsibilities. They must come together to ensure that those who suffered so much to make this tournament possible are not left behind,” he added.

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