Amnesty International critical of Qatar and FIFA

Amnesty International has accused Qatar of doing “almost nothing effective to end chronic labour exploitation” since it was chosen to host the 2022 World Cup.

Wednesday marks five years to the day that the Gulf state was controversially selected to host football’s marquee international competition, with subsequent preparations marked by concerns and criticism regarding the country’s human rights record.

“Too little has been done to address rampant migrant labour abuse,” said Mustafa Qadri, Gulf migrant rights researcher at Amnesty International. “Qatar’s persistent labour reform delays are a recipe for human rights disaster.

“The reforms proposed by the government fail to tackle the central issues that leave so many workers at the mercy of employers, yet even these changes have been delayed.

“Unless action is taken – and soon – then every football fan who visits Qatar in 2022 should ask themselves how they can be sure they are not benefiting from the blood, sweat and tears of migrant workers.”

Amnesty claims that, of nine fundamental migrant labour rights issues outlined in a May 2015 report, Qatar has seriously failed to address five of them, including the payment of wages on time, commitment to expanding the labour inspector force, and a reform of the ‘kafala’ sponsorship system that impacts on migrant workers’ ability to change jobs or leave the country.

FIFA has also come in for criticism.

“FIFA has bent over backwards to make a Qatar World Cup work, even taking the unprecedented step of moving the tournament from summer to winter,” continued Qadri.

“But apart from occasional public statements the organisation has not set any clear, concrete agenda for how it will push Qatar to ensure migrant workers’ rights are respected.

“FIFA may be moving to new leadership in 2016, but it will not be able to get past its current challenges until it makes it clear that Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup is contingent on respect for human rights.”

Qatar has previously denied exploiting workers, while FIFA responded in a statement on Tuesday: “FIFA found the introduction of the Supreme Committee’s Worker’s Welfare Standards, which meet international norms for working conditions, accommodation and wages, to be an encouraging step.

“These standards are contractually binding for all companies working on 2022 FIFA World Cup projects. FIFA will continue working closely with the Supreme Committee to ensure that contractors comply with standards throughout the entire construction cycle at each FIFA World Cup site.

“Furthermore, FIFA will continue to urge the competent governmental authorities in Qatar to ensure that such standards are extended and applied not only to FIFA World Cup-related infrastructure but also throughout the country.”

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