An in-depth report on existing labor practices in Qatar has been submitted to the government by international law firm DLA Piper, QNA reports.
The firm was tasked with looking into the working and living conditions of Qatar’s blue-collar workforce following intense media coverage of various abuses here. It also is supposed to provide recommendations on how existing practices can be improved.
QNA reports that the report will only be publicly released after a thorough review of the findings and an evaluation of the feasibility of recommendations made. It continues:
“The welfare of workers in the State of Qatar is a matter of utmost importance. We will respond to the recommendations and release the report to the public after our review in alignment with the ongoing steps being taken by the State to improve the labour legislation and conditions of workers.”
Conference on rights
The announcement about DLA Piper’s report came yesterday, as human rights advocates and government officials gathered to discuss the state of labor affairs in Qatar.
During the “Qatar Labor Rights Protection” summit, the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs did not make any big announcements about changes to the kafala (sponsorship) system, despite widespread expectations about a major overhaul.
It is possible that any changes the government has pledged are forthcoming could be announced when the DLA Piper findings are made public.
Meanwhile, officials yesterday did discuss several steps they are taking to improve labor conditions in Qatar, including:
- The implementation of a wage protection system, in which companies who don’t pay their employees by direct deposit could face fines or lose their ability to recruit more workers;
- The construction of two “labor cities” to house more than 100,000 workers in the Industrial Area. There also plans afoot to float tenders to build five accommodations to house some 120,000 workers; and the
- Hiring of more labor inspectors and interpreters who can better communicate with many of Qatar’s blue-collar employees, who often do not speak English or Arabic.
The timeline for many of these initiatives remains unclear.
The one major project underway to house workers in the Industrial Area, the $1 billion Barwa Al Baraha development, is four years behind schedule.
The “Worker’s City” project was supposed to be completed in mid-2010, and house some 50,000 workers. It is expected to begin receiving tenants sometime this year.
Amnesty Interational, whose representatives spoke at the conference, welcomed Qatar’s willingness to discuss labor issues, but reiterated calls on the country to scrap its exit permit system.
Amnesty's Audrey Gaughran: exit permit is a blatant violation of human rights.
— James Lynch (@jpmlynch) May 1, 2014
The rights group, which has recently published separate reports about workers in the construction industry and domestic employees here, also questioned the detention of expats who “run away” from their employers, especially without legal justification for punishing them.
MOI official confirms there is no such thing as "absconding" under Qatari law.
— James Lynch (@jpmlynch) May 1, 2014
And they will continue dragging their feet….
“QNA reports that the report will only be publicly released after a thorough review of the findings and an evaluation of the feasibility of recommendations made.”
My guess is that this will happen at a pace similar to the constructions of the new airport . . .
Cause every change in the west happens at neck breaking speed…
Apparently in this case, yes. When was slavery abolished in Qatar?
Rather than using “the West” (whatever that means) as an excuse for your country’s poor performance in certain areas, how about doing a better job and leading by example? A stellar record on human rights would be a much better legacy than the world record for the largest flag or soccer ball.
Exactly. Qatar is way behind on human rights. Time to catch up and overtake other countries on this and lead by example. Let that be Qatar’s legacy.
Sorry Mr Osama Alassiry, this in my eyes only makes the existence of the current system even worse. If Qatar has acknowledged the wrongs of slavery as way back as 1952 however still operate the current system, then ignorance is no excuse. 64 years have gone by and slavery, as defined by the UN, still exists, lets not forget all the treaties and UN bills that Qatar has signed. Its time for change and the only people who can push for change are citizens, not us residents, we are powerless.
@disqus_QE0ThNlyM5:disqus … I replied a simple answer to a simple question…
to complicate things:
1- How did the UN define slavery, and where?
2- Which treaties and “bills” do you refer to?
p.s. Sponsorship is NOT slavery, some abuses happening in some companies makes it so.
For the ignorant one this may help.
refer article 4 (No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.) read the word “In all their forms” ..
By the way, this country is a signatory in this declaration….
2. for islamic views , this may help … http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/history/slavery_1.shtml
3. you don’t need to turn the pages of any religious text to question something wrong …
4. what you see in Qatar now is indeed Haram …No question about it …. it won’t make it halal when the beneficiary is you guys…
I actually KNOW the UDHR.
1. “In all their forms” isn’t one word, and it’s open to interpretation… it’s not a definition of slavery…
I define slavery as a person owning another person… Just like owning a car, a phone, a laptop… You pay them NOTHING, they HAVE TO work for you, you FEED them and keep them HEALTHY to be able to WORK…. I don’t think sponsorship ensures that, even if it enables it for some.
2. I don’t read about Islam on the BBC’s website.
3. Why not?
4. SOME of what happens certainly is “haram”.
Fully agree, those in charge know exactly what is ongoing, even the previous foreign minister called Kafala a pure slavery system 10 years ago… The only speed we observe is when driving on the roads.
I don’t think so… Did he? He’s usually VERY diplomatic in everything he says.
From a 2007 Gulf News piece:
“Qatar and Gulf immigration and labour policies require that migrants work under local sponsors, a measure which Qatari Prime Minister Shaikh Hamad Bin Jasem Bin Jabr Al Thani just two weeks ago compared to a form of slavery raising concerns in the local business community.”
And haha, just got your sarcasm 🙂 Hope to see you today!
Do you have the source for this? Would love to see it, as it quite surprising.
It is easy to find. I propose you might want to read the article published in the FT on June 27th 2008. He made similar comments at the time as reported by other newspapers. I am bit surprised that this is not common knowledge
What’s the betting the published version following the review is not word for word the same as the report submitted.
I think that we should allow them the time they need (within reason) to review all the reports they have received from the various bodies. However, if the systems have not been changed during 2014 then the international community must see the matter for what it is and take the necessary action, be that the removal of the World Cup or greater as deemed necessary. It is difficult for any culture to admit that the system they have used for years is so flawed that it amounts to slavery and that is no different here. Apart from the moral side it is virtually impossible for the country to introduce all the workers rights that we have in Europe/US overnight as the country would grind to a halt. Can one imagine the scenario where workers were allowed to strike? Building would stop completely. It would take so long to fix the issues that no deadline for construction would be reached. As much as we would like sweeping changes to bring Qatar into line with what we are used to at home we cannot see it happen in the short term.
voted myself up again. iPad is a nightmare!
It would only be changing things overnight if you do as is done here. Meaning history begins when you get caught not when you’ve known for a very long time that this system is in place, then saying we can’t change over night.
…… The labourers and this group of workers themselves must be feeling so embarrassed that all of a sudden everyone is going overboard in trying to be so nice to them for a change. They seem to be getting so much publicity in the local papers, you tube, etc. Hope things will get better for them and the others too.
Release the report?
fil mish mish