Amnesty International slams Qatar and FIFA over ‘forced labor’

Migrant Workers' Labour camp in Qatar.
Migrant workers often live in deplorable conditions.
Credit: Metro World News

In 2010, Jatendra left his native India for Qatar, lured by the promise of higher wages and the excitement of travel.

“At first, it was OK,” says the construction worker, now 24. “But then the company ran out of money, and we went nine months without our salaries. Food was a problem, and we were not allowed to do other work, so we just stayed in our rooms.”

“The company told us to keep working, but we went on strike. They said if you don’t work you wouldn’t get any money. I think it was a type of slavery,” he added.

Jatendra says he never received the money he was owed by Krantz Engineers, one of the companies profiled in Amnesty International’s report, “Dark Side of Migration,” which alleges systematic abuse of Qatar’s migrant workers. More than 1.5 million of these laborers comprise almost 95 percent of Qatar’s workforce, while new construction will drive that figure up by another million ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

The report alleges that many are victims of forced labor, working under threat or without pay. The “kefala” system that requires all migrants to have a native sponsor is being abused, the report alleges, giving employers the power to keep workers from changing jobs, leaving the country or lodging complaints about their working conditions.

Further, these conditions are often unsafe. The Nepalese embassy reported that 174 of its nationals died in 2012, and Qatar’s Labor Ministry found that 30 percent of companies breached safety standards. Around 11 percent of laborers had suffered injuries, and half of these could have been avoided through safety precautions. The report also found the laborers’ accommodations to be dangerous, with surveyed facilities lacking water, electricity and air conditioning; some were contaminated by raw sewage.

“It is simply inexcusable in one of the richest countries in the world that so many migrant workers are being ruthlessly exploited, deprived of their pay and left struggling to survive,” said Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty International.

The organization also attacks FIFA for “assertions that it is not responsible and cannot change things,” demanding that football’s governing body pressure the 2022 World Cup hosts to improve worker conditions. The report alleges that specific World Cup construction projects are subject to abuse.

Specific demands of Qatar include the abolition of the sponsor system, improved labor rights such as the freedom to join unions and more inspections of construction sites.

Qatari officials claim improvements are underway. “Some systems were developed at a different time in Qatar’s life and need to be changed,” said Hassan Al-Thawadi, head of the 2022 organising committee.

FIFA has long argued that the World Cup would help its host nation reach international standards of human rights. But this embarrassing report suggests it may be part of the problem.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

National

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…

International

North Korean leader's money manager defects in Russia:…

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper…

Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 29,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on August 29, 31 and 31. Several streets and avenues will be…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…