Qatar 2022 plans welfare standards for contractors

Amnesty International condemned human rights abuses in Qatar

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The 2022 World Cup organizers responded Monday to a critical report on the conditions for migrant workers in Qatar by saying they are formalizing welfare standards that contractors must implement.

The rights group Amnesty International on Sunday condemned human rights abuses in Qatar, cataloging the alleged exploitation of migrant workers building the infrastructure required for football’s showpiece tournament.

Amnesty cataloged how some workers in the tiny Gulf nation are exposed to dangerous working conditions, poor standards of accommodation and the non-payment of wages.

Following discussions about the report on Sunday, Qatar’s World Cup organizers said they informed Amnesty about the formation of a worker welfare committee, and plan to publish workers’ welfare standards by next month.

The organizing committee said the standards will be aligned with Qatari law and international best practices and “set clear guidelines from recruitment to repatriation.”

“Compliance with the law and Q22’s standards will be a contractual obligation for companies working on Q22 projects and will be transparently and robustly monitored through a three-tier compliance and auditing structure,” the World Cup supreme committee said in a statement.

The Qataris pointed to Amnesty acknowledging how they are taking positive steps to “ensure contractors uphold human rights standards.”

“The responsibility for the welfare of workers is shared by all parties involved in the chain of contracting including the government of Qatar, the governments of sending countries, recruitment agencies and the companies that utilize them,” the statement said.

Amnesty’s study was published around a week after FIFA President Sepp Blatter visited the emir of Qatar to share FIFA’s concern about working conditions after newspaper investigations highlighted alleged human rights abuses and deaths in the extreme heat.

FIFA wrote to Amnesty to express hopes that by taking the World Cup to the Middle East for the first time it can be the catalyst for social change, including an “improvement of labor rights and conditions for migrant workers.”

There have been long-standing concerns about the lack of safeguards for the mainly South Asian migrant laborers in Qatar and across the Gulf, including low-grade housing and employers withholding the worker passports.

Up to $220 billion is expected to be spent to expand the infrastructure in Qatar before it stages football’s showpiece event, Amnesty said, although specific World Cup projects may only account for $4 billion of that.

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