Amnesty International has said that progress to improve the rights of migrant workers building Qatar’s FIFA World Cup facilities is not being made fast enough.
Though it is more than 12 months since Qatar’s government promised reforms to improve migrant labour rights, Amnesty said that only limited progress has been achieved in five of nine areas. The authorities have failed to make any improvements in the other four according to a scorecard briefing titled ‘Promising little, delivering less: Qatar and migrant labour abuse ahead of the 2022 Football World Cup’.
“Qatar is failing migrant workers,” said Mustafa Qadri, Gulf migrant rights researcher at Amnesty International. “Last year the government made promises to improve migrant labour rights in Qatar, but in practice, there have been no significant advances in the protection of rights.”
According to Amnesty, little has changed in law, policy and practice in the last year for the more than 1.5 million migrant workers in Qatar who remain at the mercy of their sponsors and employers. Regarding exit permits, the restriction on changing employers in Qatar’s kafala system, the protection of domestic workers and the freedom to form or join trade union – there has been no progress whatsoever, it found.
“The lack of a clear road map of targets and benchmarks for reform leaves serious doubts about Qatar’s commitment to tackling migrant labour abuse,” said Qadri. “Without prompt action, the pledges Qatar made last year 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.”
Meanwhile, the introduction of an electronic wage system to change the way migrants’ salaries are paid is still in the process of being implemented, found Amnesty. Many migrants interviewed by Amnesty International in recent months still complained of late or non-payment of wages.
Qatar has also failed to meet its target to have 300 labour inspectors in place by the end of 2014, said Amnesty. There has been only limited progress on measures to improve safety on construction sites, regulate exploitative recruitment agencies and improve access to justice for victims of labour exploitation.