Migrant workers: Amnesty wants FIFA to pressure Qatar

Amnesty International has called on the ruling football body FIFA to pressure 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar into improving the situation of migrant workers in the country.

Amnesty said on Monday, ahead of the start of World Cup qualifying in Europe, that Qatar has had “positive reforms” which are, however, often not properly implemented.

In a four-page letter to FIFA president Gianni Infantino, Amnesty demanded the organization to take “urgent and concrete action” in pressing Qatar to deliver a programme of labour reforms before the tournament.

As the World Cup organizer, FIFA has a duty to limit the danger to human rights according to Amnesty.

Qatar has been criticized by human rights groups for many years but has undergone reforms which for instance ease the strict rules on leaving the country. These reforms have also been lauded by Amnesty and United Nations labour groups.

In response to Amnesty, Qatar said it has been carrying out a comprehensive reforms and progress is being made as quickly as possible.

“Our labour reform programme has addressed issues at all stages of the migration cycle and achieved significant results,” it said in a statement by the Government Communications Office.

“Labour reform is a complex task that takes time and requires effective, long-lasting solutions. We believe these solutions are best found through dialogue and engagement,” the statement added.

It also said it is committed to working closely with its international partners, including Amnesty International, to “ensure the laws are effectively implemented and enforced.”

Legislation setting a minimum wage came into effect in Qatar on Saturday, as part of major changes to the Gulf country’s labour market.

Qatar set a monthly minimum wage of 1,000 Qatari riyals (about 275 dollars) for both Qataris and migrants, becoming the first country in the region to adopt a non-discriminatory minimum wage.

Under the legislation, employers must also pay allowances for food and housing respectively if they do not provide workers with these directly.

Amnesty said the World Cup wouldn’t be possible without the migrant workers because they make up 95 per cent of the workforce in Qatar.

There have been boycott calls recently but Amnesty said it was opposing these because a boycott would only worsen the situation again.

The calls came after British paper The Guardian reported that 6,500 people from five Asian countries have died in Qatar since it was awarded the tournament in 2010. The data did not specify where in the country they worked.

Qatar said the mortality rate was in an expected number as 1.4 million people from the five countries are working in Qatar.

Source: GNA

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