(WFI) Five years to the day since Qatar secured 2022 World Cup hosting rights, Amnesty International says the Gulf nation has done little to “address rampant migrant labour abuse”.
Qatar has made pledges for labour reforms and the 2022 World Cup committee has introduced a workers’ charter. But the kafala system of tied employment has yet to be overhauled to ease restrictions on workers’ rights.
“Qatar’s persistent labour reform delays are a recipe for human rights disaster,” said Mustafa Qadri, Gulf migrant rights researcher at Amnesty International.
“The reforms proposed by the government fail to tackle the central issues that leave so many workers at the mercy of employers, yet even these changes have been delayed.
“Unless action is taken – and soon – then every football fan who visits Qatar in 2022 should ask themselves how they can be sure they are not benefiting from the blood, sweat and tears of migrant workers.”
He added: “FIFA has played its part in this sorry performance. It knew there were labour rights issues in Qatar. It must work closely with the Qatari authorities and business partners to ensure the World Cup is not built on exploitation.”
Amnesty International has carried out five research missions to Qatar in the past four years to investigate the conditions of the migrant labour force which is expected to reach two million within the next two years.
The human rights body said FIFA had done little “to press the hosts of its showpiece sporting event in the past five years”.
“Most recently, FIFA failed to deliver on its promise in May to investigate the detention of British and German journalists who tried to investigate migrant workers’ working and living conditions,” Amnesty said.
Amnesty has issued fresh demands for FIFA to press the Qatari authorities to implement and monitor reforms to protect migrant workers’ rights. It also wants FIFA and its partners to implement human rights due diligence systems that identify and prevent human rights abuses linked to the staging of the World Cup.
Qadri added: “FIFA has bent over backwards to make a Qatar World Cup work, even taking the unprecedented step of moving the tournament from summer to winter. But apart from occasional public statements the organisation has not set any clear, concrete agenda for how it will push Qatar to ensure migrant workers’ rights are respected.
“FIFA may be moving to new leadership in 2016, but it will not be able to get past its current challenges until it makes it clear that Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup is contingent on respect for human rights.”
Responding to the criticism, Qatar 2022 organisers said Amnesty had not accurately reflected the progress the gas-rich nation had made: “Significant reforms have been made and more are in the pipeline.”
In a statement, world football’s governing body said: “FIFA is fully aware of the situation with regards to labour standards in Qatar and of the opportunity that FIFA, together with other stakeholders, has to improve working conditions in the country.”
FIFA said it had been working for four years in concjunction with Qatar and other key stakeholders, including Amnesty International and the International Trade Union Confederation help introduced fair working conditions on FIFA World Cup construction sites.
FIFA said the worker’s charter was an encouraging step. “FIFA will continue working closely with the Supreme Committee to ensure that contractors comply with standards throughout the entire construction cycle at each FIFA World Cup site,” it said.
“FIFA will continue to urge the competent governmental authorities in Qatar to ensure that such standards are extended and applied not only to FIFA World Cup-related infrastructure but also throughout the country.”
FIFA said it was in the process of putting in place a human rights due diligence procedure for the 2022 World Cup.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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