Qatar’s is building multi-million dollar football stadiums at the expense of human rights, according to a report released by Amnesty International (AI) on Sunday.
“The Dark Side of Migration: Spotlight on Qatar’s Construction Sector Ahead of the World Cup” documented a range of abuses against the labor force, including the “non-payment of wages, harsh and dangerous working conditions, and shocking standards of accommodation.” Amnesty researchers quoted one construction sector official referring to the workers as animals.
“Employers in Qatar have displayed an appalling disregard for the basic human rights of migrant workers. Many are taking advantage of a permissive environment and lax enforcement of labor protections to exploit construction workers,” the report cited.
In addition to abuses mentioned above, exhausted laborers who wish to flee are forcibly trapped and prevented from leaving the country by their employers.
More than 1.2 million migrant workers in the oil-rich Arab state come from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and underprivileged countries including the Philippines, Nepal, and Bangladesh. The numbers are increasing despite poor working conditions in the Gulf since there are no job opportunities at home.
Human Rights Watch World Report 2013 stated that Qatar may recruit up to “a million additional workers” in the next decade to construct stadiums and infrastructure for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
In September, British newspaper The Guardian, in an exclusive investigative report, revealed that dozens of Nepalese migrant laborers died in Qatar between June 4 and August 8. More than half died of heart attacks, heart failure or workplace accidents.
Later, the world's largest trade union federation, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) claimed that the construction frenzy potentially endangered the lives of at least 4,000 migrant workers.
Prior to these reports, Qatar was already being doubted as a viable option to host the world cup in 2022. The English Premier League even demanded for the event to be moved out of the Gulf state. The human rights abuses revelations have further exasperated the situation.
Secretary General of Amnesty International, Salil Shetty called on the Qatari authorities to put an end to corporate exploitation of migrant construction workers.
“Qatar is recruiting migrant workers at a remarkable rate to support its construction boom, with the population increasing at 20 people an hour. Many migrants arrive in Qatar full of hopes, only to have these crushed soon after they arrive. There’s no time to delay - the government must act now to end this abuse.”