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9 Sep 2020

James Lynch, FairSquare for Migrant-Rights.org

Op-Ed: Qatar could lead the way, but implementation is key

The new kafala law published in the Official Gazette yesterday represented the most serious movement by Qatar on migrant worker rights so far.

The fact that the notorious no objection certificate... is a thing of the past is what gives hope. If workers can genuinely move freely to new employers, exploitative bosses will have much less hold over them. It is important to bear in mind that elements of kafala will still remain – including the “absconding” charge, which employers have long used against workers who dare complain. There will also need to be meticulous monitoring of workers’ six month probation period, during which time new employers have to repay recruitment fees to old employers. Nevertheless, this appears to be a significant step forward and goes beyond what any other Gulf country has attempted in terms of introducing labour mobility...

There are other deep-rooted and serious issues affecting workers... The new minimum wage announced last week will only make a difference if workers are guaranteed to receive those wages... payment of illegal recruitment fees is near ubiquitous, and trade unions are still outlawed... Qatar continues to hold back data about the number and causes of deaths of the hundreds of migrant workers who die in the country each year.