Amnesty concerned about Qatar workers ahead of WC

Last Updated: Monday, November 18, 2013 - 12:11

London: An international human rights group has catalogued alleged human rights abuses in Qatar in connection to construction projects for the 2022 World Cup, and called on FIFA to ensure the exploitation of migrant workers ends.

In a report published yesterday, Amnesty International warned that migrant workers in the tiny Gulf nation are exposed to dangerous working conditions, poor standards of accommodation and the non-payment of wages.

"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," Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty said in a statement.

Amnesty`s study comes a week after FIFA President Sepp Blatter visited the emir of Qatar to share FIFA`s concern about working conditions after newspaper investigations highlighted alleged human rights abuses and deaths in the extreme heat.

There have been long-standing concerns about the lack of safeguards for the mainly South Asian migrant laborers in Qatar and across the Gulf, including low-grade housing and employers withholding the worker passports.

"Our findings indicate an alarming level of exploitation in the construction sector in Qatar," Shetty said. "FIFA has a duty to send a strong public message that it will not tolerate human rights abuses on construction projects related to the World Cup."

FIFA wrote to Amnesty to express hopes that by taking the World Cup to the Middle East for the first time it can be the catalyst for social change, including an "improvement of labor rights and conditions for migrant workers."

Up to USD 220 billion is expected to be spent to expand the infrastructure in Qatar before it stages football`s showpiece event, Amnesty said, although specific World Cup projects may only account for USD 4 billion of that.

Amnesty did say that the labor rights adopted by World Cup organisers themselves could "potentially serve as a positive model for other developers in Qatar," but expressed fears that other projects such as major infrastructure work like building roads and railways won`t adopt those standards.

"Construction companies and the Qatari authorities alike are failing migrant workers," Shetty said. "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 labor protections to exploit construction workers."

Describing the current laws for migrant workers are inadequate, Amnesty said its researchers saw 11 men having to sign papers in front of government officials falsely saying they had received their wages so their passports would be returned.

PTI

First Published: Monday, November 18, 2013 - 12:11

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