According to a new report by an international human rights research group, migrant workers building stadiums for the upcoming FIFA World Cup continue to face labor exploitation and human rights abuses despite recent reforms in the country. Qatar.
Over the past two years, migrants from Africa and Asia working at the eight new stadiums have faced abuse – including wage theft, physical assault and inadequate food – at the hands of large construction companies, according to Equidem’s 95-page report.
The World Cup organizing committee denies these allegations.
The context: Qatar was chosen in 2010 as the site of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, becoming the first country in the Middle East to host the tournament. But the small, wealthy nation has come under fierce international scrutiny for its treatment of more than two million migrant workers hired to build facilities for the event, prompting the Gulf country to begin enacting a series of reforms work in 2017.
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Report: Worker rights violations at FIFA World Cup stadiums continue
Investigations by Equidem between September 2020 and October 2022 documented “significant labor and human rights violations” at all eight stadiums, according to the report.
Researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 60 migrant workers employed at stadiums and spoke to a total of 982 workers. Many come from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, among other nations.
The report found that stadium violations included “charges of illegal recruitment, discrimination based on nationality, unpaid wages, exposure to extreme heat and other health and safety hazards, overwork and workplace violence”.
World Cup construction companies “actively evaded labor inspections” and created a “captive and controllable workforce amounting to forced labour”, according to the report. Many workers have been exposed to COVID-19, according to the report.
Qatar began reforming its “kafala,” or sponsorship, system in 2017. On paper, the reforms mean migrant workers are allowed to change jobs, leave the country at will, and file complaints with labor courts. There is also a minimum wage which is not linked to the prevailing wage in the country of origin.
“FIFA and the government of Qatar frequently talk about reform when faced with criticism of the upcoming World Cup. Our research found that beyond smokescreens, workers are still being victimized of racism, discrimination and abuse without real accountability,” said Mustafa, CEO of Equidem. Qadri said in a statement.
Asked about the report, FIFA said it was in contact with its Qatari counterparts “to assess the information” contained in Equidem’s report.
The Supreme Delivery and Legacy Committee, the World Cup organizing committee, said the report is “littered with inaccuracies and misrepresentations” and is “a blatant attempt to undermine and damage ” to the reputation of the committee.
“We are committed to delivering the legacy we promised. A legacy that improves lives and lays the foundation for just, lasting and lasting labor reforms,” the Supreme Committee said in a statement Thursday.
“We did not get the promised salary”
Anish Adhikari, a football fan from a remote district in eastern Nepal, said he traveled to Qatar in 2019 to work on the iconic Lusail Stadium, where the tournament final will be played.
“We did not receive the salary we were promised, and, the job, which was also different from what we were told,” Adhikari said through an interpreter during a virtual press conference organized Thursday by Equidem.
Adhikari said he received little food and had no air conditioning in his accommodation. He remembers working at high temperatures without a break and only with hot water.
Adhikari said that when he raised his concerns, his manager threatened to move him to another site or send him back to Nepal. Stadium workers were not allowed to voice their concerns when FIFA inspectors visited venues, Adhikari said. He said he returned home late last year.
“It was because of football and the stadium that I went to Qatar to work,” he said. “Despite the pain, of course I will watch football and the World Cup.”
Report calls for compensation fund, center for migrant workers
Equidem calls on Qatar to uphold international minimum standards for migrant workers in the years following the World Cup and to establish a “Migrant Workers Centre” to protect the rights of migrant workers.
“Qatar needs to create an independent center for migrant workers so that workers can have a safe space to voice their concerns and seek help without any fear of victimization,” said Geoffrey Owino, a migrant worker from Kenya. who spent nearly four years in Qatar. virtual press conference.
Equidem and other human rights groups are also renewing their calls for the creation of a compensation fund for migrant workers and their families who have suffered “discrimination, injury, death, recruitment and labor practices and abuses during the organization of the FIFA World Cup”. Infrastructure Qatar 2022.”
The coalition is asking FIFA to set aside at least $440m for the fund – the equivalent of the prize money to be handed out at the World Cup
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“We believe that thousands of workers should seek redress for charges of illegal recruitment, unpaid wages and other harms,” Qadri said in the statement.
He added: “As the world spotlight turns to the World Cup, this report shines a light on the workers who refuse to remain hidden and bravely demand their freedoms. FIFA can no longer turn a blind eye and should set up a compensation fund immediately.