Qatar: UN expert on racism highlights discrimination, "stereotyping" and "profiling" of migrant workers
E Tendayi Achiume, UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, conducted a country visit to Qatar 21st November - 1st December 2019.
During the mission Achiume met with government officials to learn about the country's approach to tackling racism in policy and practice. She also met with civil society organisations, academics and representatives of ethnic and religious minorities who have experienced racial abuse, including migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and women.
Although Achiume did acknowledge the "significant reforms the government has embarked on that stand to make important contributions to combatting structural racial discrimination", her report also highlights the structural racism facing minorities. It particularly explores the abuse facing migrant workers from Asia and Africa.
Reports of racial profiling in the country reflect the unequal access and enjoyment of rights between Qataris and long-term migrant workers, Achiume said. She found racism also manifested itself practically, describing how African and Asian people face challenges to accessing public spaces such as shopping centres, for example, as opposed to Arab and white people.
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Achiume commended existing labour and immigration reforms aimed at improving conditions for low-income migrant workers – who make up 71% of the national population – and welcomed further reforms planned for early 2020.
“The nature and extent of positive reforms is truly significant,” she said. “However, immense power imbalances persist between employers and migrant workers, imbalances rooted in the kafala (sponsorship) system that historically structured labour relations and conditions of residency for low-income workers in Qatar.
“The result is that, both because of the content of the law, and the power it confers on employers over employees, many low-income workers are too afraid to seek justice for labour violations, and reasonably so.”
Author: Prof. E. Tendayi Achiume, UN Special Rapporteur on on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance
The terms of reference of my visit were to assess the Government’s efforts in combatting racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance in Qatar...
my statement highlights Qatar’s unique demographic context; the extreme challenges it faces in light of this context; the monumental reforms it has already achieved to combat racial discrimination and related intolerance; the severe human rights violations that still persist, including on the basis of national origin; and the existence of racial, ethnic and national stereotypes and discriminatory structures that are, in part, the product of the history of slavery in Qatar, a practice that was only outlawed in this country in 1952.
Author: Doha (APF)
Migrant workers in Qatar are facing discrimination because of their nationality, racial identity, stereotyping and the "prevalence" of profiling...
"For many people living in Qatar, their capacity to enjoy human rights fully is mediated by their nationality or national origin," [said] the UN's special rapporteur on racism and discrimination Tendayi Achiume...
"...many low-income workers spend the better part of their working lives in Qatar and do so facing serious barriers to full enjoyment of their fundamental human rights"...
Very few migrant workers ever qualify for permanent residency and almost none achieve citizenship and the welfare benefits enjoyed by Qataris.