Qatar says committed to labour reform after Amnesty criticism

Qatar has introduced a series of labour reforms since its selection as 2022 World Cup host. (AFP pic)

DOHA: Qatar said Wednesday it is committed to labour reform following an Amnesty International report that the 2022 World Cup host is failing to stop widespread labour abuse.

Doha said it was on course to deliver “lasting” change after the London-based human rights group accused the energy-rich state of “running out of time” to implement reforms before the World Cup.

“Far from seeing time as running out, the government of the State of Qatar understands further change is needed and we remain committed to developing these changes as quickly as possible, while ensuring they are effective and appropriate for our labour market conditions,” a government statement said.

“Practical, efficient and lasting change takes time and that is what we have committed to.”

In its report published on Tuesday, Amnesty said that despite reforms brought in by Doha, conditions “for many migrant workers in Qatar remain harsh”.

It called on Qatar to properly enforce current labour laws, increase the minimum wage and scrap the “kafala”, or sponsorship, system.

This practice ties workers to their employers, restricts their ability to change jobs or leave the country and remains firmly in place, said Amnesty.

It also called for better protection for some 175,000 domestic workers.

Qatar has introduced a series of labour reforms since its selection as World Cup host set in motion a huge construction programme under intense international scrutiny.

It has introduced a monthly minimum wage of 750 riyals (US$206) and has partially scrapped the exit visa system which required workers to obtain their employers’ permission before leaving the country.