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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. The Special Rapporteur's report was published in April 2020 and can be read in full below.

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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20 July 2020

Football urged to find its voice on the exploitation of migrant workers preparing Qatar for the 2022 World Cup

Author: Ian Ladyman, Daily Mail (UK)

"Football is saying nothing as racism and the exploitation of migrant workers thrives at the home of the 2022 World Cup... do black lives not matter in Qatar?"

In a recent statement about the Black Lives Matter campaign, the Premier Leagueunderlined their stance by saying: ‘We wholly agree with the players’ single objective of eradicating racial prejudice wherever it exists.’ In the week that match dates for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar were revealed, you wonder how these two things sit side by side.Last week, we heard from the United Nations on racism and the exploitation of migrant workers in the Gulf state. The language contained in a report was stark, saying: ‘European, North American, Australian and Arab nationalities systematically enjoy greater human rights protections than South Asian and sub-Saharan African nationalities.’ The majority of the tens of thousands of immigrant workers employed to build stadiums and infrastructure for the World Cup are from south Asia and west Africa. The UN report claims their working conditions remain largely unacceptable. Some have already died. But still football says nothing...It doesn’t ask the relevant questions about what would appear to be clear human rights violations of workers trapped in an established system of exploitation and abuse. It doesn’t attempt to apply pressure for change....We know it is too late to change the fundamentals. The World Cup will take place in Qatar. But football can speak up. It can try to bring about change, if it is brave enough.

Read the full post here

15 July 2020

Migrant workers in Qatar face "structural racism" says UN report

Author: Pete Pattisson, The Guardian (UK)

The United Nations has raised “serious concerns of structural racial discrimination against non-nationals” in World Cup host nation Qatar...

The report reveals that low-wage workers continue to suffer severe discrimination and exploitation, almost 10 years after Fifa awarded the World Cup to Qatar...

Nick McGeehan, a director at FairSquare, said: “This report from one of the world’s leading voices on anti-racism makes Qatar a litmus test for Fifa’s anti-racism commitments and raises serious questions for its sponsors...”...

In a statement to the Guardian, Fifa failed to acknowledge the racial discrimination described by the special rapporteur and said the report recognised, “the significant improvements that Qatar has made over the past years, and commends Qatar for its openness in engaging with the UN-mandated experts”.

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27 April 2020

Report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance on her mission to Qatar

Author: E Tendayi Achiume, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance

Download the full document here

3 December 2019

Qatar: UN racism expert commends reforms but urges more action to end persistent discrimination

Author: OHCHR

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.”

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1 December 2019

End of Mission Statement

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.

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1 December 2019

UN expert warns of racial profiling 'prevalence' in Qatar

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.

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