Qatar vows to protect World Cup workers

Last Updated: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 - 12:15

Doha: Qatar pledged on Monday to ensure respect for labourers` rights after Amnesty International urged the energy-rich Gulf state to end the "alarming" abuse of migrants working on football World Cup infrastructure.

A 169-page Amnesty report called on world football governing body FIFA to press Qatar to improve labour conditions, alleging exploitation of the workers, mostly from South or Southeast Asia.

In response, the organising committee in Doha, which rejects claims of slavery-style conditions on construction sites in the world`s wealthiest nation per capita, pledged to impose respect for workers` rights.

The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee (Q22) said it had held "constructive" talks with Amnesty yesterday on the conditions of foreign labourers, and that the dialogue would continue right up to the tournament.

A "Workers` Welfare Standards" setting clear guidelines from recruitment to repatriation is to be issued at the end of this year, it said in a statement.

It stressed that compliance would be a contractual obligation for companies working on Q22 projects and would be robustly monitored.

In a damning report, however, Amnesty said its researchers had heard one construction firm manager use the term "animals" to describe migrant workers.

Amnesty secretary general Salil Shetty said the findings indicated "an alarming level of exploitation" in Qatar, and called the abuses "widespread" and "not isolated".

"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," he said.

After meeting Qatar`s emir and prime minister on November 9 in Doha, FIFA chief Sepp Blatter said the issue of working conditions was being addressed.

On Monday, FIFA said human rights must be respected.

"FIFA has made very clear... That it upholds respect for human rights and the application of international norms of behaviour as a principle and part of all our activities," it said.

It said that it understood and shared Amnesty`s efforts to ensure justice and respect for rights, adding it expects "the hosts of its competitions fully respect these".

AFP

First Published: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 - 12:15

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