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AI: Qatar failing to protect migrant domestic workers from exploitation

[JURIST] Migrant workers in Qatar face human rights abuse including forced labor, excessively long working hours, verbal harassment, and physical and sexual violence, according to an Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] report [report, PDF] released Wednesday. The report, entitled "Qatar: 'My sleep is my break': Exploitation of migrant domestic workers in Qatar," reveals evidence that domestic workers in Qatar face what can amount to forced labor and human trafficking. The country does not limit working hours for domestic workers, and there is no requirement to give them a day off. Domestic workers also unable to issue complaints to the Ministry of Labour [official website]. Many domestic workers are unable to leave their harsh employment situations, as the sponsorship system in the country requires employer consent in order to leave the country.

Qatar has faced criticism for its human rights approach regarding freedom of expression [JURIST report] and has also been affected by the recent escalation of violence in Gaza [JURIST news archive] and Southern Israel, which has led to serious human rights abuses. In 2010 UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] encouraged [JURIST report] the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) [official website, in Arabic; GlobalSecurity backgrounder] states, which include Qatar, to address continuing rights issues including women's rights, treatment of migrant workers, statelessness, and freedoms of expression, association, and assembly. A 2008 Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] report found that female domestic and migrant workers faced frequent abuse [JURIST report] throughout Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

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