Human rights organisation Amnesty International has released a statement criticising Qatars new standards for contractors building the 2022 Fifa World Cup stadiums as being a positive first step but not going far enough to adequately safeguard construction workers across the country.
The standards represent a positive, if partial, effort to prevent some of the worst abuses from taking place on World Cup projects, says James Lynch, Amnesty Internationals researcher on migrants rights in the Gulf. While this may be a good starting point, the charter will only address the concerns of a relatively small proportion of migrant workers in Qatar those involved in the construction of stadiums and training grounds.
Yesterday, Qatars Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy released a 50-page report, drawn up in conjunction with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which sets out detailed standards on payment of wages, accommodation and welfare. These are to be enforced under a stringent new inspection regime.
The standards were issued in response to recent reports that claimed widespread abuses of workers across the country in the construction sector.
But while Qatar has pledged that contractors who build its stadiums will be held to high standards regarding the welfare of migrant workers, Lynch says the standards will not apply to thousands of other migrant workers in Qatar, including those who will build the wider infrastructure to support the hosting of the World Cup, such as roads, hotels and railways.
The reality is that all foreign workers across the country are still subject to the restrictive sponsorship system that facilitates abuse, he says. There are also serious questions relating to the implementation of these standards. In our experience, enforcement is almost always the stumbling block. We need to know how the Supreme Committee will effectively address non-compliance by contractors and subcontractors.
Ultimately, these standards alone will not be enough. We need to see real reform including to the sponsorship system, led by the government, for all of Qatars workers.