UN rights expert calls for protection of migrant workers in Qatar

Upon concluding his nine-day visit to Qatar, UN human rights expert, Obiora C. Okafor, commended national efforts to promote “human rights-based solidarity with other States and peoples”. He also called for further action to protect migrant workers, who make up over 92% of Qatar’s labour force.

Mr. Obiora expressed concerns about the kafala (sponsorship) system, which leaves workers vulnerable to abuse by employers. He drew attention to some companies illegally charging employees a fee for the issuance of No Objection Certificates, a requirement for migrants to change jobs. 

He also noted barriers for migrant workers accessing justice, when facing exploitation and abuse. He recognized the Wage Protection System (WPS) as a step in the right direction, but highlighted reports of companies delaying wages without the WPS detecting the abuse, leaving migrants workers stranded and destitute.

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Article
11 September 2019

Qatar: UN expert welcomes solidarity agenda, urges more action on climate change and migrants’ human rights

Author: Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

A UN human rights [Obiora C. Okafor] expert has commended Qatar for its significant contribution to human rights-based solidarity with other States and peoples, while identifying ... the treatment of migrants as areas for further action...

Presenting a preliminary statement at the end of a nine-day visit to Qatar, Okafor praised the Government for creating and strengthening the infrastructure needed to promote and effectively deliver its international solidarity agenda...

Despite the continued existence of certain aspects of the Kafala sponsorship system for migrant workers, the expert welcomed improvements to the system and ongoing efforts to abolish it. He urged the Government to expand recently enacted protection to all foreign workers, including to migrant domestic workers and others not currently covered.

Okafor called on Qatar to do more to expand access to justice for workers facing exploitation and abuse, and highlighted the need for a higher, non-discriminatory and permanent minimum wage.

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