The newspaper The Guardian revealed today the appalling death toll among Nepalese workers who are currently working in inhumane conditions to build the 2022 World Cup stadiums in Qatar.
According to The Guardian, they "have died at a rate of one every two days in 2014", being said that this figure does not include workers from other countries such as Sri Lanka and Bangladesh who have also migrated to Qatar.
In May 2014, the Qatari government admitted that at least 1,000 migrant workers had died since 2012.
The situation in Qatar has led to shocking revelations on the working conditions of these migrant workers who are duped by recruitment agencies in their countries of origin. Many criticisms from human rights NGOs have risen and after the publication of an independent report, commissioned by the Qatar, and authored by the global law firm DLA Piper, which focused about the necessary reforms that need to be implemented in Qatar to better protect migrant workers, there was room for some hope.
In November 2013, the European Parliament adopted the resolution 2013/2952(RSP) “Qatar: situation of migrant workers”. The European Parliament expressed its concern “about the situation of migrant workers in Qatar, including long working hours, hazardous working conditions, going unpaid for months, having their passports confiscated, being forced to live in overcrowded camps, being denied the right to form unions, and having no access to free drinking water in extreme heat” (point 2).
In April 2014, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants also published a report and urged the Qatari government to abolish the kafala, or sponsorship system (see below).
Last month, Amnesty International published a report entitled “No extra time: How Qatar is Still Failing on Workers’ rights ahead of the World Cup”. The report details what the Government was urged to do a few months ago by several NGOs and the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights. Unfortunately, the NGO shows that little progress has been made by the Qatari government.
Among the reforms proposed by DLA Piper and the human rights NGOs is the kafala system which ties an employee to his/her employer in unfair conditions that amount to forced labour. Basically, the employer's consent is required to change jobs or to open a bank account and the exit visa system prevents workers from leaving the country without the sponsor's permission. Moreover, many migrant workers' passports are confiscated as an unlawful means of leverage. This regime stands for modern slavery as described by the people who have gone through it.
This grim picture has been worsened by the recent FIFA President's decision to ignore this revolting situation by confirming that the World Cup will effectively take place in Qatar in 2022.
Posted by Flavie Fuentes