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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

How openly discriminatory labor laws create slave-like conditions for foreign laborers in Qatar

The labor conditions of foreign laborers employed for the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar are violative of basic human rights. The labor laws of Qatar are openly discriminatory so much so that foreign workers are not even permitted to have the same quality of food or brand of water as Qataris. 6500 migrant workers are alleged to have died as per a February 2021 Guardian report.

Indians and Nepalis form the largest ethnic migrant workers group in Qatar. Nepali human rights lawyer Barun Ghimire has been documenting migrant worker abuse in Qatar even before the country won the World Cup bid in 2010. “Migrant workers from the poorest of countries go to Qatar seeking employment. But when they get there, there’s this tragic event that happens that’s like the case of blood diamonds. The Qatar World Cup is really the bloody cup – the blood of migrant workers”, Ghimire said.

Furthermore, many human rights organizations have alleged labor exploitation and human rights violations of many workers working on stadium construction and other infrastructure projects. It has also come to light that migrant workers have faced issues such as employer intimidation, delayed or unpaid wages, long hours in the heat, and inability to leave the country due to Qatar’s sponsorship system among others.

The accommodation camps are overcrowded, unsanitary, and also lack water and electricity several organizations have alleged. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), the Middle East in general and Gulf Countries, in particular, has the highest proportion of migrant laborers in the world.

A 2020 UN report raises serious concerns about structural racial discrimination against non-nationals in Qatar. The report also says that the extent of human rights one enjoys depends on one’s national origin and nationality.

“Over the past decade, several human rights organizations have alleged that thousands of workers involved in stadium construction and infrastructure projects in Qatar have been subjected to labor exploitation and human rights violations”, says CNN.

RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) has also raised concerns about human rights violations of Bharat’s migrant laborers. In an official statement released on June 14, it said that it was deeply concerned about human rights violations of migrants in Qatar.

“The Kafala system has caused severe trauma for workers from India as well as other South Asian countries in Qatar. Seizure of passports, overtime work, denial of permission to even leave the place of stay for a while, small accommodations, sexual abuse, forced work outside the field of expertise, have been sources of great mental agony for workers”, OpIndia reports on the BMS statement.

“1,611 Indian migrants have died in the country since 2014. The families back home had to wait for a cruel amount of time to get the mortal remains of their loved ones. If the Qatar government doesn’t take positive action on these fronts, BMS will be forced to raise this issue at both national and international forums at the earliest”, the statement notes. Additionally, BMS has also lodged a formal protest with Qatar’s ambassador to India, and labor and external affairs ministries in this regard.

The Qatar government has denied the allegations and added that they have introduced several reforms including a new national minimum wage and the removal of exit permits in the last five years.

(Featured Image Source: OpIndia)

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  1. What a horrible scenario! What is ILO doing? Where are the clamours of Human Rights Commissions? Qatar has been the following the same principle as the Great Wall of China was made!


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