First Published: 2017-11-08

UN closes probe into Qatar migrant worker abuse
International Labour Organization praises ‘very encouraging’ reform plan by World Cup host, says Qatar setting new standard for Gulf States.
Middle East Online

"We celebrate this moment for Qatar and its two million migrant workers"

GENEVA - The UN's labour agency on Wednesday closed a probe into the alleged mistreatment of foreign workers in World Cup 2022 host Qatar, praising a reform plan agreed by the emirate.

Activists and leading international labour unions had accused Qatar of subjecting migrant workers to slave-like conditions on jobs that included infrastructure projects for FIFA's top tournament.

The International Labour Organization in 2014 had opened an inquiry over whether Qatar had violated its obligations under forced labour conventions and failed to set up adequate legal protections for foreign workers.

Qatar has since agreed to a reform package that includes the introduction of a minimum wage, contracts being lodged with the government so they cannot be changed on arrival in Qatar, and employers no longer being able to stop staff from leaving the country.

"The transformation of this complaint into a real commitment by the government of Qatar to make positive change on the ground for all workers is a very encouraging development," ILO governing body chair Luc Cortebeeck said in a statement.

"We celebrate this moment for Qatar and its two million migrant workers," he added.

The International Trade Union Confederation, one of Qatar's fiercest critics which co-authored the 2014 complaint, backed the ILO decision.

"Qatar has set a new standard for the Gulf States, and this must be followed by Saudi Arabia and the (United Arab Emirates) where millions of migrant workers are trapped in modern slavery," IUTC general secretary Sharan Burrow said in a statement.

In February 2015, Qatar introduced the Wage Protection System, designed to ensure workers receive their salaries electronically, either fortnightly or monthly.

And last December, Qatar announced the end of its much-criticised "kafala" system, under which all foreign workers needed a local sponsor in order to work, maintain residency, switch jobs or leave the country.

The ILO's stamp of approval marks a victory for the emirate under pressure on multiple fronts, including a bitter diplomatic showdown with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf neighbours.

Swiss prosecutors are also conducting a wide-ranging probe into whether Qatari officials bought votes to secure the 2022 World Cup.

 

Bloodbath in Syria's eastern Ghouta

Two hardline Syria rebels announce merger

IS kills 25 Iraqi militiamen near Kirkuk

Sudan frees dozens of activists detained after protests

Saudi Arabia to host first Arab Fashion Week

Abbas calls for peace conference in rare UN speech

Egyptian court adds leading government critic on terror list

Yemen government offensive threatens heritage site

Turkey considering chemical castration for child abusers

45 civilians killed in air strikes on rebel enclave

Cairo sheds Ottoman-era street names amid Egypt-Turkey crisis

New woes for Israeli PM in fresh graft cases

Maghreb countries wary about jihadists relocating from Iraq, Syria

Erdogan says Turkey will besiege Afrin "swiftly"

Turkey releases leading pro-Kurdish politician

5 Iranian police killed in Sufi protests

Iran finds wreckage of crashed plane on top of mountain

Israel’s gas contract with Egypt: deal or no deal?

Somalia appoints new police, intelligence chiefs

Iran plane crash rescue search halted for second night

France reaffirms commitment to Iran nuclear deal

Turkey warns Syria against protecting Kurds

Abbas warms up to Moscow amid cold US-Palestinian ties

Israel strikes 'historic' gas contract with Egypt

Are Iranian satellite channels aiding regime change?

Israel pounds Gaza with air strikes after rocket attack

Iraq orders deportation of French jihadist

Pro-Assad militias to enter Syria's Afrin

Three Egyptian soldiers killed in Sinai

Israeli, US officials meet over gas row with Lebanon

Iran's supreme leader says progress needed on justice

Syria Kurds claim striking positions in Turkey

Netanyahu warns Iran, brandishes piece of metal

66 feared dead as plane crashes in Iranian mountains

Saudi women to open businesses without male permission

Netanyahu slams 'outrageous' Holocaust remark by Polish PM

Israeli air strikes kill 2 in Gaza

Six suffer breathing difficulties after Turkish shelling in Afrin

Russian mercenaries - a discrete weapon in Syria

Iran protests ban on wrestler who threw bout to avoid Israel

Fears of expanding Syrian war could trigger peace deal

Battle to free Mosul of IS 'intellectual terrorism'

Turkey frees Garman-Turk journalist after one year without charge

Turkey hands life sentences to 3 journalists for Gulen links

Turkey, US agree to ‘work together’ in Syria