‘There are … serious questions relating to the implementation of these standards’ - James Lynch
A new “Workers’ Charter” of welfare standards for migrants workers in Qatar represents a positive - if only partial - effort to prevent some of the worst abuses from taking place on building projects for the 2022 World Cup, Amnesty International said today.
Amnesty International’s researcher on migrants’ rights in the Gulf, James Lynch, said:
“While this may be a good starting point, the charter will only address the concerns of a relatively small proportion of migrant workers in Qatar - those involved in the construction of stadiums and training grounds.
“The standards will not apply to thousands of other migrant workers in Qatar, including those who will build the wider infrastructure to support the hosting of the World Cup, including roads, hotels and railways.
“The reality is that all foreign workers across the country are still subject to the restrictive sponsorship system which facilitates abuse.
“There are also serious questions relating to the implementation of these standards. In our experience, enforcement is almost always the stumbling block. We need to know how the Supreme Committee will effectively address non-compliance by contractors and subcontractors.
“Ultimately, these standards alone will not be enough - we need to see real reform including to the sponsorship system, led by the government, for all of Qatar’s workers."
In November, Amnesty published a 166-page report - The Dark Side of Migration: Spotlight on Qatar’s construction sector ahead of the World Cup - revealing widespread and routine abuse of migrant workers in Qatar, with some of the abuses amounting to forced labour. The report - based on interviews with workers, employers and government officials - documented a range of abuses against migrant workers, including non-payment of wages, harsh and dangerous working conditions, and shocking standards of accommodation. Amnesty researchers met dozens of construction workers who were prevented from leaving the country for many months by their employers - leaving them trapped in Qatar.
Amnesty’s findings have given rise to fears that during the construction of high-profile projects in Qatar - including those which may be of integral importance to the staging of the 2022 World Cup - workers will be subjected to exploitation.