Qatar denies accusations of worker abuse made by rights group ahead of World Cup
Qatar on Thursday denied allegations made by the human rights group Equidem regarding abuse and exploitation of workers who built and prepared the stadiums that will host the 2022 World Cup.
Investigators from Equidem, a UK-based group, said that they spoke to workers who said that they had not been paid their wages, were forced to work in hot temperatures, and had not been given food.
The rights group, which interviewed 60 workers and issued a 95-page report, also said that the workers were forced to pay illegal and extortionate recruitment fees to get their jobs and were prevented from changing jobs.
It added that they had been subject to physical violence, and forced to live in unhygienic conditions.
However, Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, which organises the Gulf State’s World Cup preparations, said that the report entitled “If we complain, we are fired” was “littered with inaccuracies and misrepresentations”.
In a statement, the Supreme Committee said it was “transparent about the challenges and progress, accepting constructive criticism, and maintaining dialogue with key stakeholders”.
However, it added that the report’s release shortly before the World Cup was an “egregious attempt to undermine and damage the Supreme Committee’s reputation.''
Equidem conceded in its report that Qatar had carried out labour reforms recently, limiting the much-criticised kafala (sponsorship) system and setting a minimum wage equivalent to 275 dollars per month.
However, its chairman Mustafa Qadri said that thousands of workers could be entitled to compensation over unpaid wages and illegal recruitment fears.
Qatar has been subjected to a great deal of criticism in the run-up to the 2022 Football World Cup. It is the first Arab or Muslim nation to host the tournament.
Qatari authorities say that most of the negative coverage is motivated by racism, with many of the claims made against the Gulf state being sensationalised or untrue.