Qatar’s construction sector is rife with abuse, its workers suffer “serious exploitation” and employers must stop it, says a new report published by human rights charity Amnesty International.
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The Dark Side of Migration: Spotlight on Qatar’s construction sector ahead of the World Cup report, was published as the design of the first stadium to be built for the 2022 Fifa World Cup was unveiled in Doha.
It claims there is widespread and routine abuse of migrant workers in Qatar – in some cases amounting to forced labour.
Amnesty International said it had found many workers were not being paid for six or nine months and some migrant workers were having identification papers withheld so they were unable to return home or leave their jobs. It said some were victims of human trafficking.
“It is simply inexcusable in one of the richest countries in the world, that so many migrant workers are being ruthlessly exploited, deprived of their pay and left struggling to survive,” said Amnesty International secretary general Salil Shetty.
“Employers in Qatar have displayed an appalling disregard for the basic human rights of migrant workers. Many are taking advantage of a permissive environment and lax enforcement of labour protections to exploit construction workers,” said Shetty.
In Qatar, migrant construction workers often work for small and medium sized enterprises subcontracted to major companies which in some cases fail to ensure they are not exploited, Amnesty International added.
“Companies must ensure that migrant workers employed on construction projects linked to their operations are not being abused,” said Shetty.
“They should be proactive and not just take action when abuses are drawn to their attention.”
The Qatar 2022 organising committee said all construction contracts for the stadium will be issued in line with its Workers’ Charter and Standards – developed with international human rights organisations.
“We are providing very clear standards that all contractors have to comply with to ensure the health, safety, security and dignity of the workforce,” said Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee secretary general Hassan Al Thawadi, adding that Qatar 2022 will be pushing for a London 2012 style zero-fatality record.
“Any number above zero is unacceptable and we will be working to ensure it stays there.”