HRW calls for migrant worker protection during Qatari Emir's visit to Bangladesh and Nepal

Published On: April 22, 2024 02:06 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, April 22: Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, to prioritize labor protection for migrant workers during his upcoming visits to Bangladesh and Nepal on April 22 and 23, respectively.

Both countries are significant sources of labor for Qatar, where migrants constitute 88 percent of the population. Michael Page, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at HRW, said that the need for Qatar to commit publicly to enforceable protections to mitigate the serious abuses faced by migrant workers, including wage theft, unsafe working conditions, and lack of compensation for deceased workers.

The visits come as both Bangladesh and Nepal continue to feel the impact of their citizens' contributions to Qatar's economy, notably during events such as the 2022 World Cup.

The HRW highlighted the high recruitment costs and the dire conditions many workers face upon returning home, including chronic illnesses and unexplained deaths. The organization calls for transparent and effective labor agreements to be a central topic of discussion during the Emir's visits.

Similarly, it also pointed to the inadequacies in the compensation mechanisms for families of workers who die in Qatar, noting that many deaths are not classified as work-related, leaving families without any support or compensation.

The HRW also criticized Qatar’s labor reforms as insufficient and too narrow in scope. While some reforms have been introduced, they have not fully dismantled the kafala (labor sponsorship) system, which ties a worker's immigration status to an employer, preventing many from leaving abusive workplaces without losing their legal status.

The HRW’s call to action suggests that the Emir’s visit could be a pivotal opportunity to champion significant labor reforms. “Public commitments by the Qatari Emir to concrete, enforceable worker protections during these two high-profile visits, including compensation to workers who faced serious abuses and families of the deceased, would be the best way to mark his trips to the homes of millions of current and former workers who have helped transform Qatar,” Page said.


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