Qatar Criticized for Treatment of Workers

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Yesterday, The Guardian’s Pete Pattisson released an expose condemning the treatment of Nepalese workers in Qatar in preparation for soccer’s World Cup, to take place in Qatar in 2022. Pattisson argues, “Almost all migrant workers have huge debts from Nepal, accrued in order to pay recruitment agents for their jobs. The obligation to repay these debts, combined with the non-payment of wages, confiscation of documents and inability of workers to leave their place of work, constitute forced labour.”

In response, the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, who leads preparations for the event, told The Guardian, “There is no excuse for any worker in Qatar, or anywhere else, to be treated in this manner. The health, safety, well-being and dignity of every worker that contributes to staging the 2022 FIFA World Cup is of the utmost importance to our committee and we are committed to ensuring that the event serves as a catalyst toward creating sustainable improvements to the lives of all workers in Qatar.” In an interview with BBC, Qatar 2022 Chief Executive, Hassan al-Thawadi declared that worker’s rights were his top priority and indicated they have, shared their “workers’ standards and our workers’ strategy with Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International,” and they, “are in open discussions with them.” Qatar’s Ministry of Labor also responded to the concerns addressed by Pattisson, stating that Qatar has strict laws that regulate working conditions, adding, ”The ministry enforces this law through periodic inspections to ensure that workers have in fact received their wages in time. If a company does not comply with the law, the ministry applies penalties and refers the case to the judicial authorities.”

Others were also critical of the treatment of Nepalese workers suggesting, “The evidence uncovered by The Guardian is clear proof of the use of systematic forced labour in Qatar,” said Aidan McQuade, director of Anti-Slavery International. In addition, Umesh Upadhyaya, General Secretary of the General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions, cautioned, “Everyone is talking about the effect of Qatar’s extreme heat on a few hundred footballers, but they are ignoring the hardships, blood and sweat of thousands of migrant workers, who will be building the World Cup stadiums in shifts that can last eight times the length of a football match.”

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