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27 Okt 2017

Human Rights Watch (HRW)

Qatar: Implementation will be key for labor reforms; measures could be pathbreaking for region but fall short of full kafala repeal

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The Qatari government’s newly announced labor reforms are a step in the right direction, but their implementation will be the decisive factor, Human Rights Watch said today...[The reforms] are outlined in an ILO document where Qatar expressed a commitment to the ILO to institute a minimum wage, allow the monitoring of labor practices by independent experts, and reform the kafala (sponsorship) system that can prevent migrant workers from fleeing abusive employers.

These measures would be pathbreaking for Gulf countries where migrants make up most of the labor force, but the announcement gives little detail on how laws will be amended, how the changes will be carried out, or the timeframe for their implementation, Human Rights Watch said.

“Qatar’s commitments to the ILO are steps in the right direction to protect migrant worker rights, but the authorities need to get much more specific and put reforms in place without delay,” [Sarah Lea] Whitson,  [Middle East director at Human Rights Watch] said.