Horrible Treatment of Migrant Workers Leads FIFA to set Qatar Deadline

Posted on January 31, 2014


(CNN) — Organizers of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar have been set a tight deadline by FIFA to explain how conditions are improving for migrant workers on the various building projects associated with the hosting of football’s showpiece competition.

The world governing body are demanding a “detailed report” by February 12 with “information on specific steps” being taken to improve the situation.

FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke wrote to Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy Thursday to request the assurances.

Concerns over the welfare of migrant workers in Qatar was highlighted by an Amnesty International report last year, which reported on widespread abuse.

Amnesty International: The Dark Side of Migration

The scale of abuse
The abuses against migrant workers in the construction sector in Qatar are grim. Amnesty
International’s research reveals widespread exploitation of migrant workers at the hands of
their employers. The abuse, which takes place against a backdrop of discriminatory attitudes
against many categories of migrant workers, includes:

  • Workers arriving in Qatar to find that the terms and conditions of their work are different to those they had been promised during the recruitment process – including salaries being lower than promised;
  • Workers having their pay withheld for months, or not being paid at all;
  • Employers leaving workers “undocumented” and therefore at risk of being detained by the authorities;
  • Migrant workers having their passports confiscated and being prevented from leaving the country by their employers;
  • Workers being made to work excessive (sometimes extreme) hours and employers failing to protect workers’ health and safety adequately; and  workers being housed in squalid accommodation.
  • The impact of such practices on individuals can easily be underestimated. Each of these practices, on its own, is unacceptable. But many workers face the cumulative effect of being subjected to several components of such abuse simultaneously, an experience which can be difficult to capture.
  • During interviews, researchers have encountered many workers in severe psychological distress due to the treatment they had received and their sense of powerlessness to resolve their own situations. Many spoke movingly of the trauma they felt at not being able to send money back to their home countries for months at a time, at the thought of their families being harassed by moneylenders and having to sell possessions to pay the rent on their homes.
  • Some of the situations that Amnesty International found were deep crises, with large groups of migrant workers – undocumented through no fault of their own – facing a range of serious problems simultaneously: not being paid for six or nine months; not being able to get out of the country; not having enough – or any – food; and being housed in very poor accommodation with poor sanitation, or no electricity

Please click here to read the Amnesty International Report on Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers.