Amnesty says Qatar worker abuses persist one year after World Cup

Rights group Amnesty International on Thursday accused Qatar of “continuing failure” on workers’ rights as the first anniversary of the Gulf state’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup approaches.

Following Qatar’s successful bid to hold the first World Cup in the Middle East, and during the tournament, the gas-rich emirate faced a barrage of criticism over its human rights record and treatment of migrant workers.

But beginning in 2017, Doha, with the help of the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO), overhauled its employment laws, introducing a minimum wage along with health and safety reforms.

It also dismantled the controversial “Kafala” sponsorship system that gave employers powerful rights over whether workers could leave their jobs or even the country.

Amnesty said it is not enough.

“Qatar’s continuing failure to remedy abuses faced by migrant workers and adequately protect them from labour exploitation is tainting the legacy of the FIFA men’s World Cup one year on,” the group said in a statement.

“The government must urgently renew its commitment to protecting workers, while both FIFA and Qatar should agree to remediation plans for all those who suffered,” the group’s head of economic social justice, Steve Cockburn, said.

In response, Qatar’s International Media Office said the World Cup had “accelerated” the country’s labour reforms and left a “lasting tournament legacy”.

It added that changes it made set “an example for other countries on how a system can be successfully overhauled” and that “existing reforms continue to be fully implemented”.

Amnesty and other rights groups have repeatedly demanded that Qatar and international football’s governing body institute a fund for worker injuries and deaths from the World Cup.