Under great pressure, Qatar admits exploitation
04/07/2022 10:29 am
Human rights organizations like Amnesty International are keeping the pressure on World Cup hosts Qatar. A new report accuses the emirate of serious human rights violations. The organizers react and admit the exploitation of workers. But they blame private companies.
Following renewed allegations by Amnesty International, the World Cup organizers in Qatar have admitted the exploitation of workers in connection with football tournaments in the country. The human rights organization had previously published a report accusing private security companies in Qatar of exploiting migrant workers.
Amnesty said on Wednesday they were exposed to “serious human rights violations” that “sometimes corresponded to forced labour”. Workers would have had to do work against their will and under threat of punishment. “Some of them had to work up to 84 hours a week – and with the knowledge of the Qatari government,” criticized the human rights organization.
According to a statement by the World Cup organizers from Qatar, three companies did not comply with the rules in several areas. Accordingly, private security companies that were involved in the Club World Cup and the Arabian Cup were affected.
“From January to January, from Sunday to Sunday”
“These breaches were totally unacceptable and have resulted in a range of measures including the placing of contractors on watch lists or blacklists to prevent them from working on future projects – including the FIFA World Cup – before those contractors are brought to the Department of Labor for further investigation and penalties were reported,” it said.
Amnesty cited interviews with staff from eight security firms for the new report. In it, employees complain that they are being denied days off and vacation. “We work from January to January, from Sunday to Sunday, no days off,” the organization quoted a security guard from Uganda as saying. Other employees had their wages reduced if they were unable to work due to illness.
At least three companies have loaned security personnel to World Cup projects and events organized by the world association FIFA, it said. Here, too, some of the guards were subjected to forced labor. “Our findings show once again that the Qatari government is not serious about enforcing its own laws and holding accountable those who break them,” said Amnesty’s Middle East expert Katja Müller-Fahlbusch.
The rich emirate is repeatedly accused of exploiting migrant workers and other human rights violations. Qatar’s government denies the allegations, citing reforms. This is how the kafala system was dismantled. This binds foreign workers tightly to a local guarantor such as an employer and often opens the door to exploitation. In Qatar, the law allows migrants to leave the country or change jobs without the consent of their employer. Human rights activists criticize that although the kafala system has officially been abolished, it is “de facto” still in place.
The soccer World Cup starts on November 21st and runs until December 18th. In response to human rights violations, calls for a boycott have repeatedly been heard in recent months. A sporting boycott is not expected, but some sponsors have announced their absence. For example, the main sponsor of the Dutch national soccer team will not be appearing at the World Cup. “The human rights situation in the country is the reason why we are not doing anything this time,” a spokesman for ING bank told De Telegraaf newspaper.
Accordingly, the company refrains from buying tickets for employees and guests. Other sponsors such as supermarket chain Albert Heijn, KPN, Dutch lottery company Loterij and crypto exchange Bitvavo will also not be present in Qatar. However, the lettering ING will continue to be seen on the shirts of the Dutch team, and the group wants to focus on the women’s national team during the European Championships in the summer.