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27 Okt 2017


Can Qatar deliver on its worker 'revolution'?

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On the surface it appears to deliver all that critics have long campaigned for...there remains scepticism that Qatar will really deliver true change. Mustafa Qadri, executive director of Equidem, a human rights research organisation, said the reform package was "a positive sign" but also stressed the need to wait for results. "We have heard this before in 2014 when the government came out and said it would abolish kafala and get rid of the exit permit," he told AFP. "Then what we saw was that reform was slow and there were some changes but not the abolition of kafala."

Responding to the emerging scepticism, Saif Al-Thani, the director of Qatar's Government Communications Office, tweeted that the hugely wealthy emirate would develop its labour laws in line with international standards.

There may also have been another factor at play for Doha's apparent concessions -- the ongoing Gulf crisis, which has seen Qatar boycotted by neighbouring countries. Qatar has repeatedly claimed the boycott has impacted on the human rights of its citizens, and arguably the most vocal body during the nearly five-month-old dispute has been its National Human Rights Committee. Claiming rights abuses by others, while being accused of the same thing with regards to migrant workers, is not an easy thing for Qatar to explain. By radically overhauling its treatment of migrant workers, Qatar would also distinguish itself from other states in the region and present itself as more progressive than its neighbours.