The Qatari government has responded to allegations of worker abuse made by Amnesty International on Thursday, pledging to investigate the claims.
The report by Amnesty said that despite the introduction of new regulations to improve welfare standards in Qatar, several migrant workers building the country’s 2022 world cup stadiums faced abuse.
Dozens of workers from Nepal and the Philippines had been charged recruitment fees by agents in their home countries, were housed in squalid conditions and barred from leaving Qatar by employers who confiscated their passports, it alleged.
However the Qatari government released a statement in response asserting that it was committed to the “ongoing, systematic reform” of its labour laws.
“Our goal is to create a legacy of improved conditions for workers in Qatar and to set the standard for both labour rights and human rights in the Gulf region. We acknowledge the progress that has been made by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy.
“To that end, we are well aware that our efforts are a work-in-progress, and we welcome the efforts Amnesty and other NGOs are making to help us identify areas for further improvement.
“Though many of the points raised by Amnesty have already been addressed through recent legislative changes, we are concerned by a number of allegations contained within the report.”
It added: “The ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs intends to investigate the contractors named in the report.”
Amnesty said it interviewed 234 workers involved in rebuilding the Khalifa Stadium and the surrounding Aspire Zone between February 2015 and 2016.
Many of the migrant workers said the terms and conditions of their work were different from those that they had been promised by recruiters in their home country.
“The main form of deception that workers reported was with regard to salary. All but six of the 234 men interviewed told Amnesty International that, on arrival in Qatar, they learned that their salaries would be lower than the amount they were promised.”
The report in particular also pointed to abuses by small sub-contractors brought in to work on the Khalifa Stadium.
These companies did not appear to have been vetted, it claimed, with staff regularly threatening to withhold workers’ pay or report them to the police.
“The penalties used by company managers to exact work from the workers included the threat of non-payment of wages, being deported or, conversely, not being allowed to leave Qatar because the employer would not provide an exit permit,” Amnesty said.
Qatar and football governing body FIFA are expected to come under increasing pressure as the number of workers brought in to build the stadiums increases to 36,000 within the next two years.
FIFA said in a statement on Thursday that it would urge Qatari authorities to take action and ensure new labour standards are enforced in construction projects across the country.