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

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Local

Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.