Qatar rejects Amnesty claims of unexplained migrant deaths

Qatar rejects Amnesty claims of unexplained migrant deaths
Amnesty International has accused Qatar of not properly looking into 'thousands of migrant workers' deaths'.
2 min read
28 August, 2021
Qatar recently introduced new protections for migrant workers though dangers remain [Getty]

Qatar has rejected claims made by rights group Amnesty International in its report, In The Prime of Their Lives, which accuses the state of not "adequately investigating and certifying thousands of migrant workers' deaths" during the past decade.

The report, published on Thursday, draws on input from nine experts in fields including cardiology and occupational safety. Amnesty also interviewed relatives whose loved ones passed away while working in the Gulf emirate.

The document alleges Qatar has "long-standing failures to prevent, investigate and remedy the deaths of migrant workers".

A spokesperson for Qatar’s Government Communications Office said in a statement that Qatar’s "injury and mortality statistics are in line with international best practice and set new standards for the region".

Referencing Qatar’s recent protection regulations for workers, the statement also added, "the new rules expand the hours during which outdoor work is prohibited, introduce annual health checks for all workers, and require work to immediately stop if the wet-bulb globe temperature rises above a temperature recommended by health experts".

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According to Amnesty, inquiries were not made with relatives of the six individuals whose deaths were most central to the report about if they wished a post-mortem to be performed to discover how their loved one died.

In 15 of 18 total cases considered, death certificates gave vague reasonings for individuals passing, such as “acute heart failure natural causes” and “acute respiratory failure due to natural causes".

Migrant workers must contend with a severe climate, arduous labour and long hours, Amnesty asserted.

According to official Planning and Statistics Authority numbers cited by the report, 15,021 non-Qatari citizens have died in the Gulf nation from 2010 to 2019.

Qatar has been on a building journey ahead of the football World Cup, which will be there in 2022. The country now has a two million-strong migrant labour force, Amnesty said.

Doha drew praise earlier this year from International Trade Union Confederation General Secretary Sharron Barrow after it increased heat safeguards for workers as the event drew closer.

"We welcome this new legislation and commend the Government of Qatar for its continued efforts to protect workers' health and safety at work," Barrow said in a statement.