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Nicosia (AFP) – A year before the World Cup in Qatar, Amnesty International on Tuesday urged the energetic emirate to end abuses against migrant workers, many of whom built the tournament infrastructure.
“The daily reality for many migrant workers in the country remains harsh, despite legal changes introduced since 2017,” the London-based human rights group said.
He urged Qatar to abolish the so-called kafala sponsorship system that ties foreign workers to employers, making them more vulnerable to abuses such as late payment and non-payment of wages.
“The authorities’ apparent complacency puts thousands of workers at continued risk of exploitation by unscrupulous employers, many of whom are unable to change jobs and risk wage theft,” said Mark Dummett, program director. global Amnesty issues.
“They have little hope of recourse, compensation or justice. After the World Cup, the fate of the workers who remain in Qatar will be even more uncertain.”
Amnesty also said that “authorities have done little to investigate the scale of the unexplained deaths”, arguing that there was evidence of links to unsafe working conditions.
He accused foreign workers of having limited access to justice and they are prohibited from organizing to fight for their rights.
Qatar has previously been criticized for its treatment of migrant workers, with activists accusing employers of exploitation and forcing workers to work in unsafe conditions.
” Work in progress “
The Qatari authorities insist they have done more than any other country in the region to improve the welfare of workers and reject international media reports of the deaths of thousands of migrant workers.
“Qatar rejects Amnesty’s claim that labor reforms have not translated into changes on the ground for hundreds of thousands of migrant workers,” its government communications office said in a statement.
More than 240,000 workers have successfully changed jobs since the barriers were removed in September 2020, and more than 400,000 have directly benefited from a new minimum wage, the statement said.
Qatar highlighted other reforms, including new visa centers in countries of origin, which had “dramatically reduced operating practices” and an extended summer work ban “to minimize the effects of heat stress “.
“Qatar has never hesitated to recognize that its system of work is still a work in progress,” he added.
Amnesty acknowledged that Qatar has made positive reforms since 2017, including limits on working hours for resident domestic workers, labor courts and a fund to support the payment of unpaid wages.
But the human rights group blamed “failure to implement” some of the reforms “means exploitation continues.”
“Qatar is one of the richest countries in the world, but its economy depends on the two million migrant workers who live there,” Dummet said.
“By sending a clear signal that labor abuse will not be tolerated, penalizing employers who break the laws and protecting workers’ rights, Qatar can offer us a tournament that we can all celebrate. But it didn’t. not yet achieved. “
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