- Sputnik International
Get the latest news from around the world, live coverage, off-beat stories, features and analysis.

Killing Fields of Qatar: Migrant Worker Deaths and the Missing Justice

© AFP 2023Workers are seen at a construction site in Doha, on November 16, 2014.
Workers are seen at a construction site in Doha, on November 16, 2014. - Sputnik International
On 6 June 2016 it was reported that 12 migrant workers had died during the construction of a 362-room Hilton hotel resort for the Qatar 2022 World Cup. Campaigners have called for justice.

As part of its bid, Qatar pledged to build an extra 40,000 hotel rooms, however it's the migrant workers who are paying the ultimate price for this sporting event.

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary from the International Trade Union Confederation, is calling for Qatar to bring its laws into the modern era and make labor camps safer.

"Labor camps aren't safe, and we have seen in every labor camp we visited, exposed gas bottles, open flames on cooking stoves and overcrowding. A fire in a labor camp is a tragic accident waiting to happen," Sharan Burrow told Sputnik.

Another startling fact is that the Qatari government refuses to release the official figures outlining how many people have been killed since construction started.

"Qatar still refuses to make public the actual death toll of migrant workers or the real causes of death. The vast majority of the workers are working to deliver the huge World Cup infrastructure program by the 2022 deadline. By analyzing Qatar's own statistics and health reports over the past three years, the fatality rate is over 1,000 per year, meaning that an estimated 7,000 workers will die by 2022," Burrow told Sputnik.

The responsibility for migrant deaths also appears to be outside of Qatar government's jurisdiction. With the government ignoring the plight of the migrants and their families, it also seems that companies like the Hilton have turned a blind eye.

"Companies could immediately invest in upgrading existing labor camps to make the labor camps safer for migrant workers to live in. 1.4 million people or 60 percent of Qatar's population live in Labor camps according to Qatar's latest census data," Burrow said.

There are many who are sympathetic, as Ms Burrows points out, there are Qataris and expats who have rescued domestic workers and provided assistance. However, there have been cases where those who intervene to assist workers often become victims themselves, whilst journalists who have reported on the issue have been detained.

It also appears that achieving justice is also a difficult thing, and will be hard to obtain. The justice system in Qatar is stacked against the migrant workers. With few rights, no collective voice or union representation, workers have no formal recourse to justice.  

"Construction firms and the global companies that commission them to build infrastructure must be held to account for both income loss through injury and compensation for families who have lost loved ones," Burrow told Sputnik.

The next part of this story is anyone's guess, as living conditions worsen and the death toll increases, campaigners are calling for Qatar to take responsibility for allowing migrant workers to live in squalid and unsafe conditions and to stop the recruitment of more workers.

"The Kafala system which enslaves workers, and denies workers the right to leave the country without their employer's permission must be immediately abolished. Qatar should pause the recruitment of migrant workers until the rights and safety of workers are guaranteed," Burrow told Sputnik.

To participate in the discussion
log in or register
Заголовок открываемого материала