Qatar reforms falling short of promises, says Amnesty

by Reuters
Thursday, 26 September 2019 21:00 GMT

ARCHIVE PHOTO: Workers test soil as they grow grass for Qatar's 2022 World Cup, at an experimental facility in Doha, Qatar November 29, 2016. Picture taken November 29, 2016. REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon

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The tiny Gulf state has come under fire for what rights groups describe as poor labour conditions

LONDON, Sept 26 (Reuters) - World Cup 2022 host Qatar has made improvements in labour rights for its two million foreign workers, but reforms have not lived up to promises made, Amnesty International told Reuters in an interview.

The tiny Gulf state has come under fire for what rights groups describe as poor labour conditions. Doha has responded by enacting a broad reform programme in which it has scrapped exit permits for most workers, established a minimum wage and launched dispute committees to hear worker grievances.

"There has been some small improvement but generally we've found there's been a real lack of progress and workers are paying the price," said Amnesty International's Deputy Director of Global Issues, Stephen Cockburn.

In a report last week Amnesty documented the cases of about 2,000 workers unable to recover unpaid wages, despite the dispute committees and a fund established to pay them back, with many forced to return home unpaid.

"We do believe that the bodies like FIFA sponsors and others and national football associations all have a role in highlighting these issues, in speaking out and to try and encourage and pressure the Qatar authorities to do what it said it would do," Cockburn said.

Qatar said in a statement responding to Amnesty's report that it was working to make sure its reforms are "far-reaching and effective" and that "any issues or delays with our systems will be addressed comprehensively".

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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