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Frozen chicken from Brazil

All shipments of meat and chicken from Brazil are being checked at Qatar’s ports to ensure their quality before they are cleared for sale, the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) has announced.

The move comes after evidence was found that meat-packers in Brazil had been selling rotten products for years.

Some 30 people were arrested last week, three packing plants were closed down and 21 are under investigation, according to the BBC.

Shabina S. Khatri / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Brazilian officials have stressed that these plants account for only a fraction of the industry, but many nations that import Brazilian meat and poultry products have suspended imports nonetheless.

That includes China, South Korea and the European Union.

Lab samples taken

Frozen halal chicken from Brazil is very popular in Qatar. And shoppers are sure to notice its lack of availability in the coming days and weeks.

According to an official from Qatar Foods, 90 percent of the nation’s poultry comes from the South American country.

The Peninsula reports business consultant Iqbal Vadakara as saying:

“Restriction of products from Brazil could lead to an acute shortage of poultry and meat products in the market. Almost all the major fast moving frozen chicken brands in the market are imported from Brazil.”

Once lab samples are analyzed and products are found fit for human consumption, the meat and poultry will be released, MOPH said.

Thoughts?

Note: The lead image in this article has been changed, as Sadia chicken says it was not affected by the curbs.

Alex Gill/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar will face the International Labor Organization (ILO) tomorrow to defend itself against allegations of “forced labor.”

The ILO voted to investigate complaints filed by unions last year, and even visited Qatar to inspect working conditions for expats.

The complaint asserted that Qatar “fails to maintain a legal framework sufficient to protect the rights of migrant workers consistent with international law and to enforce the legal protections that currently do exist.”

Shrief Fadl/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

It also lambasted Qatar’s former kafala sponsorship law, calling it “among the most restrictive in the Gulf region” because it makes it hard to leave an abusive employer.

The ILO had the option to recommend the establishment of a commission of inquiry, its highest investigative mechanism, to take a closer look at the complaints.

But last March, it decided to give Qatar a year to work on the issues, as the country was in the middle of changing its laws.

Kafala changes

Qatar officials submitted a document to the ILO last month, outlining its labor rights progress in recent years.

It highlighted several legislative changes, including Law No. 21 of 2015, which took effect in December.

Qatar called the legislation a “repeal of kafala.”

Craig Sunter/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The new sponsorship law does indeed make it easier for expats to leave the country and change jobs.

But foreigners are still required to obtain exit permits from their employers.

And while it is now easier for some people to switch jobs, the no objection certificate requirement has not been abolished.

Instead, only workers on fixed-term contracts can now change jobs after their contract is completed without an NOC.

Those on open-ended contracts must work for five years before being able to do so. And all foreigners would need labor ministry approval before taking up new employment.

Domestic worker rights

The progress report also included information about a draft law on domestic workers, which Qatar’s Cabinet approved last month.

This legislation would provide legal protection to Qatar’s nannies, drivers and cooks by creating a common contract for them.

Mopaw Foundation/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Currently, these workers are not required to sign contracts with their employers and cannot file complaints against them with the Ministry of Labor.

According to the document submitted to the ILO, the law would establish a 10-hour workday with periods for rest and food.

It would also mandate one day off a week. However, it is unclear how the law would be enforced, as inspectors are not usually sent to people’s homes to look for labor violations.

What’s next

Rights groups are closely watching this week’s session, and have urged the ILO not to close the complaint against Qatar.

Last week, Amnesty International urged that the process continues. James Lynch, Deputy Director of Amnesty’s Global Issues Program, said in a statement:

“This is a critical juncture for migrant workers in Qatar. The government has made some public commitments in response to ILO pressure, but its claims that it has abolished the sponsorship system simply do not add up.

If the ILO governing body endorses Qatar’s inadequate reforms by dropping this complaint, this could have damaging consequences for migrant rights in Qatar and across the region.”

Thoughts?

Operation Collateral Freedom

Reporters Without Borders

Qatar listed amongst RSF’s Enemies of the Internet

As Doha News approaches its fourth month of being blocked in Qatar, international non-profit Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has come up with an innovative solution to the issue.

As part of a campaign to mark World Day Against Cyber-Censorship, the group has launched a mirrored version of the Doha News website that is accessible in Qatar.

Bookmark this URL to access our site whenever you want: http://ec2-52-17-106-120.eu-west-1.compute.amazonaws.com/

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

If you use Google Chrome, RSF has also built a handy Chrome browser extension to make it easier to access the mirror.

Fighting censorship

The mirrored site is part of RSF’s annual Operation #CollateralFreedom campaign. This year, the group is unblocking 24 websites across Turkey, Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia and beyond.

RSF explains how it works on their website:

“Operation #CollateralFreedom circumvents technological censorship by means of an original strategy in which “mirrors” or duplicates of the censored websites are created on the servers of the world’s Internet giants.

Authoritarian regimes cannot block access to the mirrors without the “collateral damage” of restricting their own access to the services of these Internet companies.”

Do the sites for you? Thoughts?