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13 Dec 2016

The Guardian (UK)

Migrant workers in Qatar still at risk despite reforms, warns Amnesty

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“It is good that Qatar has accepted that its laws were fuelling abuse but these inadequate changes will continue to leave workers at the mercy of exploitative bosses,” [James Lynch, deputy director for global issues at Amnesty] said. Lynch, a former British diplomat in Doha, said that in practice employers would still be able to stop migrant workers from leaving the country and that, by making it easier for employers to confiscate workers’ passports, the new law could make the situation worse. “The tragedy is that many workers think that this new law will be the end of their ordeal,” he said.

The Gulf state is spending an estimated $200bn on new transport infrastructure, housing and sports facilities, including six stadiums designed by architects including Lord Foster and the late Zaha Hadid. Construction for the 2022 World Cup will peak in the coming two years, and Spanish champions FC Barcelona are due to play an exhibition match in Doha on Tuesday.

Amnesty has warned Fifa that it “cannot continue to remain shamefully ambivalent to the plight of workers in Qatar” and said FC Barcelona “should make clear to their hosts their desire to play in a human rights-friendly environment. Players and clubs cannot live in a bubble”.