Emir issues new law overseeing sponsorship system

In the face of ongoing criticism, Qatar's emir has approved changes to the 'kafala' labour law that has drawn the wrath of rights groups such as Amnesty International.

Qatar's emir has approved changes to the kafala labour laws.
Qatar's emir has approved changes to the kafala labour laws.

Qatar's emir has approved reform of the country's ‘kafala’ labour laws, reports State media.

The Qatar News Agency (QNA) said the emir issued a new law overseeing the sponsorship system, as well as rules which allow workers to switch jobs.

The much criticised current system only allows workers to leave the country with the approval of their employer.

While the new laws are proposed to come into force in 2017 at the earliest, it is unlikely that the mooted changes will placate critics.

QNA said Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani had approved reforms "on the regulation of the entry and exit of expatriates and their residency".

It added:"All concerned authorities, each in their capacity, are to implement the law and it will be applicable one year after its date of publication in the official gazette."

The new proposals will see workers able to leave the country after giving at least three days' notice to the interior ministry, at which point officials will then contact the employer or sponsor for approval.

In addition, workers will be allowed to change jobs at the end of a contract, without the consent of their bosses.

Qatar had announced earlier this year that it was committed to reform of the ‘kafala’ system, which has been the object of derision from rights groups, including Amnesty International, ever since the country was awarded the right to host the football World Cup in 2022.

Changes to the laws have also given rise to heated debate within Qatar itself, with the country's main advisory body, the Shura Council, questioning reforms earlier this summer.


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