Qatar's new labour law won't stop abuses of migrant workers, say rights groups | Reuters

By Ed Upright LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - - Qatar's labour law reforms won't end the abuse and exploitation faced by migrant workers in the country - and may even make it worse, human rights groups said on Monday.The Qatari government said a new law coming into effect on Tuesday will replace the controversial 'kafala' or sponsorship system that forces foreign workers to seek their employer's consent to change jobs or leave the country.Rights groups say the kafala system has forced workers to live in squalor and toil under dangerous, sometimes fatal, conditions which amount to modern-day slavery.Qatar is spending billions of dollars on infrastructure related to the World Cup it is hosting in 2022 and has imported hundreds of thousands of construction workers from countries such as India, Nepal and Bangladesh for ambitious building projects.The reforms won't lead to significant changes on the ground, however, according to an Amnesty International report which says workers will continue to need their employer's permission to change jobs and will still require exit permits to leave the oil-rich Gulf state.'This new law may get rid of the word 'sponsorship' but it leaves the same basic system intact,' James Lynch, deputy director for global issues at Amnesty International, said in a statement. 'FIFA [football's governing body that organises the World Cup] its sponsors and foreign governments seeking business ties with Qatar cannot and must not use this reform to claim that the problem of migrant labour abuse has been solved.'According to Amnesty, abusive employers can also withhold workers' passports under a new loophole - something that wasn't allowed under the previous laws.The International Trade Union Confederation told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that despite the new laws, 'Qatar remains a slave state'.

Reuters December 13, 2016 00:24:32 IST
Qatar's new labour law won't stop abuses of migrant workers, say rights groups
| Reuters

Qatars new labour law wont stop abuses of migrant workers say rights groups
 Reuters

By Ed Upright

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - - Qatar's labour law reforms won't end the abuse and exploitation faced by migrant workers in the country - and may even make it worse, human rights groups said on Monday.The Qatari government said a new law coming into effect on Tuesday will replace the controversial "kafala" or sponsorship system that forces foreign workers to seek their employer's consent to change jobs or leave the country.Rights groups say the kafala system has forced workers to live in squalor and toil under dangerous, sometimes fatal, conditions which amount to modern-day slavery.Qatar is spending billions of dollars on infrastructure related to the World Cup it is hosting in 2022 and has imported hundreds of thousands of construction workers from countries such as India, Nepal and Bangladesh for ambitious building projects.The reforms won't lead to significant changes on the ground, however, according to an Amnesty International report which says workers will continue to need their employer's permission to change jobs and will still require exit permits to leave the oil-rich Gulf state."This new law may get rid of the word 'sponsorship' but it leaves the same basic system intact," James Lynch, deputy director for global issues at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

"FIFA [football's governing body that organises the World Cup] its sponsors and foreign governments seeking business ties with Qatar cannot and must not use this reform to claim that the problem of migrant labour abuse has been solved."According to Amnesty, abusive employers can also withhold workers' passports under a new loophole - something that wasn't allowed under the previous laws.The International Trade Union Confederation told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that despite the new laws, "Qatar remains a slave state".

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said: "This is just new labels on old laws. The exit permit system still remains a fact of life. This is just a relabelling of an extremely exploitative system."The Qatar government on Monday said the reforms would make it easier for migrant workers to change jobs and leave the country, bringing "tangible benefits"."The new law is the latest step towards improving and protecting the rights of every expatriate worker in Qatar," Labour Minister Issa al-Nuami said in a statement.

"We urge the international community not to draw any definitive conclusions until there has been time to see the new law in action."The Qatari embassy in London did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Amnesty report on Monday.Bangladeshi labour activists said on Friday they had joined a lawsuit in Switzerland against FIFA for allegedly failing to use its influence to ensure people working on World Cup facilities in Qatar are treated fairly.The suit, filed in FIFA's home city of Zurich with the backing of the Netherlands' largest labour union, calls on FIFA to force Qatar to adopt "minimum labour standards" for migrant workers preparing for the tournament. (Reporting by Ed Upright; Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

Case of the disappearing hilsa: Prized catch eludes fishermen's nets in Bangladesh's peak season
long reads

Case of the disappearing hilsa: Prized catch eludes fishermen's nets in Bangladesh's peak season

Overfishing had decimated Hilsa stocks in this part of the world until the Bangladeshi government imposed a ban in March and April, when the juvenile fish are growing up and moving out to sea.

Former New Zealand cricketer Craig McMillan pulls out of Bangladesh coaching staff
First Cricket News

Former New Zealand cricketer Craig McMillan pulls out of Bangladesh coaching staff

Bangladesh had appointed McMillan in August for the tour after former South African batsman Neil McKenzie stepped down from the post because of the coronavirus crisis.

Booker Prize 2020 shortlist announced; Avni Doshi's Burnt Sugar, Diane Cook's The New Wilderness among six finalists
Lifestyle

Booker Prize 2020 shortlist announced; Avni Doshi's Burnt Sugar, Diane Cook's The New Wilderness among six finalists

Of the 13 books long-listed for the award, eight were debut novels out of which four — Diane Cook's The New Wilderness, Avni Doshi's Burnt Sugar, Douglas Stuart's Shuggie Bain and Brandon Taylor's Real Life — have made it into the shortlist.