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World Cup 2022: Qatar continues to exploit its migrants

Translated Monday 25 May 2015, by Carly Coulter

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According to Amnesty, the abuses continue across construction sites for the World Cup 2022.
Photo: Marwan Naamani/AFP

According to an Amnesty International report, the country hosting the World Cup of football in 2022 is at the centre of numerous criticisms, not having kept its promises to reform its labour law.

In the most recent report criticising the “abuse” of migrants, Amnesty accuses the oil-monarchy of having failed to keep its promise, made in May 2014, to introduce reforms in such crucial areas as wage payments, the sponsorship programme ‘Kafala’ - which puts the employee at the mercy of his or her employer - or the restrictions concerning changing employers. For Mustafa Qadri, a researcher for Amnesty regarding expatriates of the Golf, there are “serious doubts about Qatar’s commitment to fighting against the abuse of migrants.” According to the human rights organisation, which based its findings on statistics obtained by the Indian and Nepalese governments, the two largest suppliers of migrants, 441 workers originating from these two countries died in 2014. “The government made promises to improve the rights of migrant workers in Qatar, but in practice there has not been any significant progress,” added Mustafa Qadri, suspecting the emirate of wanting to do a “simple public relations operation.”
Amnesty lists 9 “fundamental” areas for the reform, and states that Doha has achieved only “limited progress” in five of these areas. The host country of the World Cup 2022 is specifically targeted for its failure to appoint 300 work inspectors before the end of 2014, and for the slow introduction of an electronic payment system for wages. As for Qatar, those in charge admitted at the beginning of May that the reforms were taking longer than had been predicted, all the while reaffirming their desire to change the situation. The Minister of Labour, Abdallah Ben Saleh al-Khulaifi, announced that he is “90%” sure that the Kafala system will be replaced towards the end of this year, adding that the wage protection system will be operational by mid-August, along with the improvements to migrant housing. The Monarch gives his word!

FIFA Called Upon
Amnesty has called upon FIFA (la Fédération Internationale de Football Association), which will hold its convention next week to elect a new president, to “prioritise” this case and to “urge Qatari authorities, publicly and privately, to implement real reforms to protect the rights of migrants.” FIFA responded through a representative, affirming having, “repeatedly, publicly warned” Qatar on this subject, and hoping “to continue to urge the Qatari authorities to complete the reforms and abolish the Kafala system.” The governing body of world football is pleased that the World Cup “is serving as a catalyst to a significant change” in the situation of immigrant workers, emphasising that “none of the incidents mentioned in the report took place at the stadium sites”… the FIFA director gives his word!

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