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Qatar to replace kafala system by early 2015

Announcements about new legislation to be made early next year

Picture for illustrative purposes only.
Picture for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar, host of the 2022 football World Cup, has vowed to introduce new legislation to replace the controversial kafalasponsorship system and improve conditions for migrant workers by early 2015.

The current law, which limits the rights of movement for foreign workers, would make way for legislation that was "currently under review," said the labor and social affairs ministry on Sunday.

"We expect to make announcements about new legislation by early next year," it said in a statement.

Qatar's treatment of its massive foreign workforce has come under the international spotlight as it steps up construction of facilities for the world football showcase in 2022.

Human rights groups and FIFPro, the global union representing footballers, have urged Qatar to abolish the kafala system, which enables employers to prevent their foreign workers from leaving the country or changing jobs and has been likened to modern-day slavery.

The oil-rich country said in May that it would replace the sponsorship system with one based on employment contracts.

Under the new legislation, the exit permit that foreign workers need to leave the country is to be replaced by a system under which permission is granted automatically after a three-day grace period.

Foreign workers would also be able to change jobs at the end of their contracts, without the need for the certificate they currently require from their previous employers showing they have no objections.

Those on open-ended contracts would be entitled to change jobs after five years.

And employers who confiscate the passports of their workers would face tougher penalties.

"We intend to effect meaningful and lasting change for the benefit of all those who live and work in Qatar," the labor ministry said on Sunday.

On Thursday, football's world governing body FIFA cleared Qatar of corruption and ruled out a re-vote to decide the host of the competition despite widespread allegations of wrongdoings. 

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