HRW slams Qatar for abuses of migrant workers

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Human Rights Watch has heavily criticised Qatar for failing to fulfill its promise regarding labor reforms. 

The New York-based international rights advocacy group has taken a serious note of hundreds of migrant workers, who are on strike in protest of poor and inhumane working conditions, unpaid and delayed wages and threats of reduced wages.

“The workers in Qatar are going on strike in a country that bans them from striking or joining unions, and against the backdrop of a labor system that leaves them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation,” said Lama Fakih, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. She added: “Abusive labor practices that lead workers to take such a risk will continue until the Qatari government makes good on its promise to repeal the kafala (sponsorship) system.”

“Migrant workers in Qatar are governed by an exploitative labor system that can leave them vulnerable to forced labor by trapping them in employment situations in which their rights to fair wages, overtime pay, adequate housing, freedom of movement, and access to justice are at risk,” the HRW said in a scathing report.

The HRW reported quoted one migrant worker at a Qatari company that provides maintenance, cleaning, plumbing, and other services, as saying that he and between 800 and 1,000 other employees had been getting repeated threats from management to deport them if they refused to sign new contracts substantially reducing their wages.

The HRW also cited other reports of workers’ strike with videos and images on social media showing hundreds of workers protesting unpaid and delayed wages. A local resident confirmed the strike and the protesters’ wage demands to Human Rights Watch.

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