Qatar: Rights Abuses Stain FIFA World Cup

(Beirut) – The FIFA World Cup, November 20-December 18, 2022, will be played after years of serious migrant worker and human rights violations in Qatar, Human Rights Watch said today. publishing a “Journalist’s Guide” to help journalists covering the Qatar World Cup.

The 42-page guide, “Qatar: FIFA World Cup 2022 – Human Rights Guide for Reporters,” summarizes Human Rights Watch’s concerns associated with Qatar’s preparations for and hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and describes broader issues related to the protection of human rights in the country. . The guide also outlines FIFA’s human rights policies and how football’s world governing body can more effectively address serious violations in Qatar and mitigate harm.

“The World Cup gets a lot of international media and fan attention, but the dark side of the tournament overshadows football,” said Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch. “The legacy of the 2022 World Cup will depend on whether Qatar works with FIFA to address the deaths and other abuses of the migrant workers who built the tournament, implement recent labor reforms and protect workers’ rights. the man for everyone in Qatar – not just for fans and visiting footballers.”

More than 1.2 million international visitors are expected in Qatar to watch the 32-team tournament, along with many government and world football leaders. Thousands of journalists will cover the event once every four years and billions of fans will watch it on TV. FIFA partners and corporate sponsors will benefit financially and promote it widely.

FIFA awarded Qatar the games in 2010, with no human rights due diligence and no set conditions regarding the protection of migrant workers who would be needed to build the massive infrastructure. FIFA also failed to examine journalists’ human rights concerns or the systemic discrimination women, LGBT people and others face in Qatar. In 2017, FIFA adopted a human rights policy, pledging to take “measures to promote the protection of human rights”, stating that “FIFA will take adequate measures for their protection , in particular by using its influence with the competent authorities”.

Rights of migrant workers
FIFA should have recognized that because Qatar lacked infrastructure for the World Cup, millions of migrant workers would be needed to build and maintain it. This included eight stadiums, an airport expansion, a new metro, several hotels and other key infrastructure, at an estimated cost of US$220 billion.

FIFA is responsible not only for stadium workers, a minority of the total migrant workforce whose employers are held to higher standards of working conditions, but also for construction and maintenance workers. Maintenance of tournament preparation and delivery projects, including transportation and accommodations, security, cleaning, and landscaping.

Despite repeated warnings from the workers themselves and civil society groups, FIFA has failed to impose strict conditions to protect workers and has become a complacent facilitator in the face of widespread abuses suffered by workers, including illegal recruitment fees, wage theft, injuries and deaths , Human Rights Watch said.

FIFA has a responsibility to identify and remedy such abuses in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which FIFA adopted in its Statutes in 2016 and its Human Rights Policy. man, passed in 2017. FIFA also has vast resources to remedy since the 2022 World Cup is expected to generate more than $6 billion in revenue.

Major labor reforms introduced by the Qatari authorities came too late or were too weakly implemented to benefit many workers.

In May, Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations, trade unions, and supporter groups pressed FIFA and Qatari authorities in a joint open letter and campaign to provide redress for abuses suffered by workers. , including financial compensation for wage theft or injury, and to the families of the deceased.

Women’s rights
In a 2021 report, Human Rights Watch documented that Qatari laws, regulations, and practices impose discriminatory male guardianship rules, which deny women the right to make key decisions about their lives. Women in Qatar must obtain permission from their male guardians (male family members) to marry, study abroad on government scholarships, hold many government jobs, travel abroad up to a certain age and receive certain reproductive health care.

Qatar’s penal code criminalizes all forms of sex outside marriage, with penalties of up to seven years in prison. If they are Muslims, they can also be sentenced to flogging or stoning. Women have been disproportionately prosecuted because pregnancy serves as evidence of the alleged crime, and reporting a rape can be considered a confession. Police often ignore women who report such violence, believing it rather than men who claim it was consensual. Any indication that a woman knew the man was enough to prosecute the woman.

Women are also required to present a marriage certificate to access certain forms of sexual and reproductive health care, including sexually transmitted infection check-ups and HIV post-exposure prophylaxis, and do not have access to contraception. emergency.

On November 7, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, Qatar’s organizing body for the World Cup, told Human Rights Watch that it will provide shelters and clinics for psychological, medical, forensic and legal aid to victims of abuse during the World Cup.

On November 9, FIFA told Human Rights Watch that “FIFA is confident that women will have full access to medical care, including all care related to a possible pregnancy, regardless of the circumstances and without asking questions. on marital status. The association also said that “FIFA has been assured that women reporting rape or other forms of abuse will not face any questions or charges regarding possible consensual extramarital sex and should not fear repercussions. in any form whatsoever on this basis”.

Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people
Qatar’s penal code punishes consensual sexual relations between men over the age of 16 with up to 7 years in prison (article 285). It also provides for penalties of one to three years (section 296) for any man who “incites” or “incites” another man to “commit an act of sodomy or immorality”. A sentence of up to 10 years (section 288) is imposed on anyone who engages in consensual sex, which could apply to consensual same-sex relationships between women, men or heterosexual partners.

In October, Human Rights Watch published the findings of a study that found that forces from Qatar’s Department of Preventive Security, under the Ministry of Interior, arbitrarily arrested six Qatari LGBT people and subjected them to ill-treatment, including beatings and sexual harassment, in detention. As a condition of their release, security forces demanded that the transgender inmates attend conversion therapy sessions at a government-sponsored “behavioral health” center. LGBT people interviewed said their mistreatment took place as recently as September, even as the government faced scrutiny ahead of the World Cup for its treatment of LGBT people. In November, an ambassador for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar 2022 described homosexuality as “mental damage” in a television broadcast. interview.

Freedom of expression and freedom of the press
Qatar’s penal code criminalizes criticism of the Emir, insulting the Qatari flag, defamation of religion, including blasphemy, and incitement to “overthrow the regime”. Qatar’s 2014 cybercrime law provides for up to 3 years in prison and a fine of 500,000 Qatari riyals (US$137,000) for anyone found guilty of spreading indefinite “false news” on the internet or publishing content online that “violates social values ​​or principles”, or “insults or slanders others.” Some international journalists have been detained while reporting in Qatar, forced to confess, and their work destroyed.

“Qatar, FIFA and sponsors still have an opportunity to salvage the legacy of the tournament by addressing migrant rights abuses associated with the World Cup and enacting reforms to improve protections for women, LGBT people and migrant groups – not just during the World Cup but beyond,” Worden said. “Journalists can help ensure that these critical issues come to light.”

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