The ministry of interior said several people were detained for trafficking people into Qatar or sheltering them through illegal means.
A group of 19 people have been arrested in Qatar for illegally smuggling, housing, and employing domestic workers, the Ministry of Interior confirmed.
The suspects were detained by the Search and Follow-Up Department at the General Directorate of Passports, the statement confirmed.
Authorities allegedly received information prior to the arrest about a residence in which illegal sheltering and smuggling was taking place, prompting an investigation into the matter.
Per Qatari law, sheltering or smuggling illegal workers is prohibited and can lead to a hefty fine and/or prison time.
The names of the detainees and their specific nationalities have not been announced.
However, according to the information released, the department searched the house after obtaining the required authorisation, and the suspects, which included men and women, were taken into custody.
The ministry reported that during questioning, the arrested individuals admitted to the charges, which included providing shelter, concealing illegal employment, breaking the law regarding the purpose of residence, as well as assisting and harbouring runaway workers.
As a result, the accused were forwarded to authorities for additional legal action.
The public has been urged to avoid interacting with workers who break the law in order to evade legal repercussions.
Suspicions can be reported on the Metrash2 application.
Run-aways: a growing concern
The latest arrests come amid rising concerns about the illegal employment of domestic workers who have entered the Gulf nation legally but later ran away from their employers.
Though runaways usually escape due to abuse or mistreatment, others are believed to escape in search for higher pay through illegal means.
The ministry warned of employing such people “to avoid any legal accountability or exposure to various crimes.”
Per the country’s regulations, employers must hire domestic workers via licensed recruiting agencies in Qatar. Depending on the worker’s nationality and other factors, hiring a housekeeper from abroad may drum up an initial cost of more than QAR 10,000.
“My son got a housekeeper this year and after exactly three months she ran away. What is surprising is that she left during the day while we were all at home,” one resident told Doha News in 2021.
“She told our other helper that she is taking an uber and then left and never came back,” she added.
“It was a disaster, my son had to go over the process again and pay the same amount which is a lot and he has a family and a baby.”
Another resident also encountered a similar experience with two different housekeepers in one year.
“I had a worker who stayed for two years, the kids loved her so much and I helped her renew her passport and all was great until one day I sent her to pick up her passport from the embassy and she never came back.”
The employer said she paid roughly QAR 16,000 to the recruiting agency.
“She told me that her mother was sick and needed QAR 2,000, I gave her the money days before she disappeared,” the employer added.
The agency said “there’s nothing we can do, contact the police,” according to the resident’s statement.