The Special Rapporteur (SR) of the United Nations on the Human Rights of Migrants’ report of his mission to Qatar has just been made public. The SR had an official visit to Qatar from 3-10 November 2013 at the invitation of the Qatar government.
The visit of the SR focused mainly on labour migration and recruitment practices in Qatar. At the time of the SR’s visit to Qatar Migration Forum for Asia members from India and Nepal submitted a report to the SR outlining the situation of Indian and Nepali migrants in Qatar based on the cases handled by MFA members.The report of the SR has been released for Universal Periodic Review of Qatar.
The report summery says, “While recognizing that Qatar has the highest proportion of migrants of any country in he world, who outnumber Qatari nationals by far, and that this creates unique challenges, the Special Rapporteur concludes that efforts need to be stepped up to prevent human rights abuses against migrants.
“Migrants often pay recruitment fees and arrive in Qatar heavily indebted, only to have their passports confiscated upon arrival and the contract signed in their home country replaced, significantly reducing their salary and often changing the nature of their work. Exploitation is frequent and migrants often work without pay and live in substandard conditions. Domestic workers are excluded from the labour law and are particularly vulnerable to abuse.
“The recruitment process for migrants needs to be further formalized in order to prevent exploitation and legislation must be enforced in order to ensure their rights are respected. The kafala (sponsorship) system, which links a work permit to a single employer, is a source of abuse and exploitation of migrants and should be abolished.
“The Special Rapporteur also notes the responsibilities of the countries that send migrants to Qatar and the private sector.”