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'Qatar 2022 World Cup workers suffering abuse'

Dozens of workers building Khalifa International Stadium are being forced to live in squalid accommodation and having their wages withheld

Dozens of workers are being forced to live in squalid accommodation, Amnesty's report claimed.
Dozens of workers are being forced to live in squalid accommodation, Amnesty's report claimed.

Workers refurbishing a key stadium in Qatar's 2022 World Cup plans have been suffering human rights abuse, a new report by Amnesty International has claimed.

Dozens of construction workers, building the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha,  are being forced to live in squalid accommodation, pay huge recruimtne fees, having their wages withheld and passports confiscated.

The report entitled, 'The ugly side of the beautiful game: Labour exploitation on a Qatar 2022 World Cup venue', was produced after interviews with 132 stadium workers and around 100 others who had worked in the surrounding complex between February and May last year.

The head of Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy said Amnesty had identified challenges in worker conditions and Doha was working to reduce these kinds of abuses.

The alleged ill treatment of workers comes just two years after the tournment's organisers drafted worker welfare standards in the wake of widespread critiscim, Reuters reported.

Hassan Al Thawadi, Qatar's 2022 committee chief, said Amnesty had highlighted 'malpractices' faced by some of the 5,100 construction workers building stadiums.

"We've always recognised that we don't have a magic wand that could fix the matter from the very beginning," Thawadi told reporters in Doha, calling the World Cup a "catalyst for change".

"We're resolving gaps day by day."

FIFA's new leadership has been under pressure to ensure Qatar delivers better standards for workers before World Cup construction peaks in 2017.

Amnesty International secretary general Salil Shetty, said: "The abuse of migrants is a stain on the conscience of world football.

"For players and fans, a World Cup stadium is a place of dreams. For some of the workers who spoke to us, it can feel like a living nightmare.

“Indebted, living in squalid camps in the desert, paid a pittance, the lot of migrant workers contrasts sharply to that of the top-flight footballers who will play in the stadium. All workers want are their rights: to be paid on time, leave the country if need be and be treated with dignity and respect.

“Despite five years of promises, FIFA has failed almost completely to stop the World Cup being built on human rights abuses.

“Hosting the World Cup has helped Qatar promote itself as an elite destination to some of the world’s biggest clubs. But world football cannot turn a blind eye to abuse in the facilities and stadiums where the game is played.

“If FIFA’s new leadership is serious about turning a page, it cannot allow its showcase global event to take place in stadiums built on the abuse of migrant workers.”

Amnesty's Gulf research Mustafa Qadri and Qatar has improved 'very visible' aspects of labour conditions like safety and worker accommodation but many 'hidden abuses' including theats to workers and failure to honour pay co

Since winning the World Cup in 2010, Qatar has spent tens of billions of dollars on a new port, metro system and airport. Hundreds of thousands of south Asians were recruited and they account for 94 percent of the 2.1 million population.

Following persistent criticism from rights groups of its 'Kefala' sponsorship laws, Qatar last year introduced electronic payment of salaries and created an appeal process for workers if employers do not sanction their leaving the country.

The Kefala system, variants of which are used across the Gulf, binds workers to their employers by requiring them to get permission to change jobs or leave the country.

 

 

 

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