Amnesty urges FIFA to act on abuses against migrant workers in Qatar as World Cup qualifiers set to kick offOver the years, Qatar has been criticised for the ill-treatment and exploitation of migrants who have been working on the infrastructure for the 2022 global football extravaganza.
Just days ahead of the qualification matches for the 2022 Qatar World Cup kick off, Amnesty International has called on FIFA, the global football governing agency, to use its leverage with the Qatari authorities to help end the abuse of migrant workers.
In a letter to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, the London-based rights human rights advocacy group called on FIFA to live up to its responsibilities to prevent, mitigate and remedy human rights risks connected to the tournament and to “use the full extent of its influence” to urge Qatar to fulfil its programme of labour reforms before the World Cup kicks off.
The 2022 Qatar World Cup qualifier matches are scheduled to begin on Wednesday and the first round of qualifiers will see countries from Europe and North, Central America and Caribbean countries competing for their berths for the event next year.
“This World Cup simply would not be possible without migrant workers, who comprise 95 per cent of Qatar’s workforce. From stadiums and roads to hospitality and security, the tournament depends on the hard work of men and women who have travelled thousands of miles to provide for their families,” Steve Cockburn, head of economic and social justice at Amnesty International, was quoted as saying in the right body’s press release on Monday. “But too often, these workers still find that their time in Qatar is defined by abuse and exploitation.”
The right watch group pointed out that Qatar has made a number of positive reforms in recent years, partly in response to increased scrutiny after the World Cup contract was awarded, but too often these are not properly implemented and thousands of migrant workers continue to be exploited and abused.
A recent investigation by the Guardian revealed that more than 6,500 migrant workers from the South Asian countries, including 1,641 Nepali migrant workers, have died in Qatar since it won the hosting rights for the FIFA World Cup 2022.
Several reports have revealed exploitation of migrant workers, who are building infrastructures for the World Cup projects or working elsewhere in Qatar, have continued in the Gulf state for several years.
Amnesty, in its statement, said, recently Qatar’s Shura Council, an advisory body, put forward a set of recommendations which, if accepted by the government, would undo much of the progress brought about by reforms, including by re-imposing restrictions on the rights of workers to change jobs and leave the country.
“As the World Cup organizing body, FIFA has a responsibility under international standards to mitigate human rights risks arising from the tournament. This includes risks to workers in industries like hospitality and transport, which have expanded massively to facilitate the delivery of the games,” said Cockburn. “This week’s qualifiers are a reminder that the window for FIFA to influence Qatar is closing – it must act now to ensure that the 2022 World Cup is a tournament to be proud of, and not one tainted by labour abuses.”
Last year in June, Amnesty International had found that nearly 100 migrant workers, including Nepali workers, who were working for a construction project for a FIFA World Cup stadium in Qatar, had remained unpaid for months.
On March 15, Amnesty had written to FIFA and called on it to live up to its international human rights responsibilities.
According to the human rights group, under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, FIFA must ensure human rights are respected in the organization and delivery of the World Cup, including by carrying out its own independent and regular monitoring of World Cup projects and venues, and conducting due diligence to identify and prevent any human rights abuses associated with the tournament.
FIFA also has a responsibility to ensure that all harms suffered by workers on World Cup-related projects to date are properly remedied, in cooperation with the Qatari authorities and other relevant stakeholders, said the statement Monday.
“FIFA must use its voice to urge Qatar to urgently implement and enforce existing reforms, and to reject proposals to strip workers of their newly gained rights,” said Cockburn.