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Qatar announces plans to address controversial migrant worker laws
Qatar announces plans to address controversial migrant worker laws

[JURIST] The Qatar government [official website] on Sunday pledged to announce new labor legislation by 2015 in an effort to improve conditions for migrant workers. The Qatar labor ministry announced [Al Jazeera report] the initiative by stating, “[w]e intend to effect meaningful and lasting change for the benefit of all those who live and work in Qatar.” The kafala sponsorship system, which currently limits the rights of foreign workers, is to be replaced with legislation that promotes a new employment contract system. Currently, Qatar’s labor force is composed of 1.2 million individuals who are mostly migrant workers. These workers under kafala law currently face issues leaving the country and changing jobs. Its reported that the new employment contract system will allow migrant workers to be able to change jobs once assignments are completed and will address issues on the ability of workers to leave the country. The announcement of the new labor laws come as Qatar begins construction for the 2022 World Cup.

Domestic workers, especially those working abroad, tend to have far fewer protections than other classes of workers. In August the president of Brazil signed into law a measure [JURIST report] providing basic protections to Brazilian domestic workers. In April Amnesty International reported on the human rights abuses faced by migrant domestic workers [JURIST report] in Qatar. In November Human Rights Watch issued a letter to the Labor Minister of Morocco, Abdeslam Seddiki, imploring the Moroccan government to revise a draft law before the Moroccan parliament regarding legal protections for domestic workers to comply with international standards. In 2011 International Labor Organization [official website] passed the Domestic Workers Convention (No. 189) [text], a measure extending basic labor rights to workers in signatory countries, including days off each week, set hours and a minimum wage. The law came into effect [JURIST report] in September of 2013 for signatory countries.