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Qatar to enforce new worker welfare standards

World Cup organising committee pledges better standards after report by Amnesty International alleged abuse of migrants.

Last updated: 18 Nov 2013 19:50
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Up to $220bn will be spent on Qatar's infrastructure before the 2022 World Cup [Getty Images]

Companies building projects for the 2022 World Cup are to be forced to guarantee welfare standards for workers, Qatari organisers have said in response to a critical report alleging abuses.

The organising committee, Qatar 2022, said on Monday that it had informed the human rights group Amnesty International that it would create a worker welfare committee, and would publish a workers' welfare standards guide by next month.

In a report on Sunday, Amnesty catalogued a number of abuses against migrant workers building the infrastructure required for football's showpiece tournament

Qatar's World Cup supreme committee said in reply: "Compliance with the law and Q22's standards will be a contractual obligation for companies working on Q22 projects and will be transparently and robustly monitored through a three-tier compliance and auditing structure." 

It said that the standards would be aligned with Qatari law and best international practices and "set clear guidelines from recruitment to repatriation".

The organiser said it was taking positive steps to "ensure contractors uphold human rights standards".

"The responsibility for the welfare of workers is shared by all parties involved in the chain of contracting, including the government of Qatar, the governments of sending countries, recruitment agencies and the companies that utilise them,'' the statement said.

Long-standing concerns

Amnesty catalogued how some workers in the tiny Gulf nation are exposed to dangerous working conditions, poor standards of accommodation and the non-payment of wages.

Amnesty's study was published about a week after the FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, visited the emir of Qatar to share FIFA's concern about working conditions following media investigations.

FIFA wrote to Amnesty to express hopes that by taking the World Cup to the Middle East for the first time it could be the catalyst for social change, including an "improvement of labour rights and conditions for migrant workers.''

There have been long-standing concerns about the lack of safeguards for the mainly South Asian migrant labourers in Qatar and elsewhere in the Gulf, including low-grade housing and employers withholding employee passports.

Up to $220bn is expected to be spent to expand the infrastructure in Qatar before it stages football's showpiece event, Amnesty said, although specific World Cup projects may only account for $4bn of that.

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