Amnesty urges Qatar to end workers’ abuse

Amnesty International has urged Qatar to end abuse of migrants working on football World Cup infrastructure, as it issued a report citing cases in which they were referred to as “animals”.


The 169-page report on Monday called on world football governing body FIFA to press the Gulf state to improve the conditions of foreign labourers, alleging “alarming” levels of exploitation against the workers mostly from south or southeast Asia.

Doha, which rejects claims of slavery-style conditions on its construction sites in the world’s wealthiest nation per capita, said it would investigate the report’s findings.

Amnesty said its researchers had heard one construction firm manager use the term “animals” to describe migrant workers.

And a worker told the watchdog that “Nepalis are treated like cattle”.

Amnesty secretary general Salil Shetty said the findings indicated “an alarming level of exploitation” in Qatar, and called the abuses “widespread” and “not isolated”.

“FIFA has a duty to send a strong public message that it will not tolerate human rights abuses on construction projects related to the World Cup.”

After meeting Qatar’s emir and prime minister on November 9 in Doha, FIFA chief Sepp Blatter said the issue of working conditions was being addressed.

Shetty said Amnesty had met officials who were “very willing to recognise that there is a problem and… strongly oriented to find solutions”.

After embarking on a multi-billion-dollar plan to host the 2022 World Cup, Qatar has come under the spotlight as migrant workers pour into the tiny gas-rich nation.

The plight of migrant workers remains an issue across the oil-rich Gulf.

Amnesty’s report documented several abuses, including “non-payment of wages, harsh and dangerous working conditions, and shocking standards of accommodation”.

Its team “found migrant workers living in squalid, overcrowded accommodation with no air conditioning, exposed to overflowing sewage or uncovered septic tanks.”

The London-based watchdog said “dozens” of them have been trapped inside Qatar, which demands foreigners obtain an exit permit to leave.

In response, Qatar said it would ensure the report was included in an inquiry it has already launched into the alleged abuses.