Amnesty: Qatar failing to deliver on promised migrant labor reforms
Amnesty: Qatar failing to deliver on promised migrant labor reforms

[JURIST] More than a year after Qatar’s government promised reform for migrant workers, little to no improvement has been made [press release], Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] said Thursday. The government announced in November [JURIST report] that 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. However, in a new report [text, PDF] by AI, the advocacy group identified nine issues pertinent to migrant labor rights that the government promised to address but has so far ignored. The government has made limited progress on five of those issues, while the government has failed to respond to four of the issues altogether. More than 1.5 million migrant workers in Qatar face exit permit issues, restrictions on changing employers in Qatar’s kafala system, protection of domestic workers and the inability to form or join trade unions. The need for migrant labor has expanded due to Qatar’s construction boom and bid to host the 2022 World Cup in the small Gulf State. AI has called on the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) to pressure Qatar’s government to ensure that football stadiums are not built at the expense of migrant exploitation and abuse.

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 AI 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.