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Article

22 Mar 2017

Author:
Shabina S. Khatri, Doha News (Qatar)

Qatar gets until November to improve its human rights record

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The International Labor Organization (ILO) decided yesterday to continue monitoring Qatar for human rights violations until November of this year...According to those who attended this week’s meeting, about 18 governments weighed in on the decision. Some of them, including the UAE and Sudan, two Qatar allies, urged the complaint to be dropped altogether, but were unsuccessful. The ILO has been investigating allegations by unions against Qatar since last year, and visited the nation to inspect working conditions for expats.

James Lynch, deputy director of Amnesty’s Global Issues Program, hailed the ILO’s decision. He said it would keep the pressure on Qatar, as “half-hearted reforms” are not enough: “Since the complaint was first brought in 2014, the government has done little to change the power imbalance between employers and migrant workers. Between now and November, Qatar needs to tackle the fundamentals. It should start by genuinely abolishing the exit permit system so that employers have no right to interfere in a migrant worker’s ability to leave the country.”

Qatar has not publicly commented on the ILO proceedings...in a document it sent to the UN agency last month, officials outlined various pieces of legislation aimed at safeguarding workers. This includes the new labor reforms, the Wage Protection System (WPS) and a draft law protecting house help. It also pledged to increase the number of inspectors on construction sites, establish a complaint hotline for abused expats and conduct a study to gain insight into the conditions and sentiments of blue-collar workers in Qatar.

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