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    November 11, 2014

    Released  00:01 GMT 12 November 2014

    Qatar’s authorities are lagging severely behind on efforts to address the rampant abuse of migrant workers’ rights, Amnesty International said in a briefing published six months after the government announced a series of reforms to tackle exploitation ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

    No Extra Time: How Qatar is still failing on workers’ rights ahead of the World Cup sets out how the Qatari government has failed to reform the systems that facilitate the abuse of migrant workers and has made only minimal progress on a number of plans it announced in May 2014.

    “Time is running out fast. It has been four years since Qatar won the bid to host the World Cup, putting itself in the global spotlight, so far its response to migrant labour abuses has not been much more than promises of action and draft laws,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Head of Refugee and Migrants’ Rights at Amnesty International.

    “Urgent action is needed to ensure we do not end up with a World Cup tournament that is built on forced labour and exploitation.”

    September 18, 2014

    Released  08:00GMT 18 September 2014

    A controversial new cybercrimes law that criminalizes the spreading of “false news” on the internet poses a serious threat to freedom of expression in Qatar, said Amnesty International.

    Under the new law, the authorities may ban websites that they consider threatening to the “safety” of the country and punish anyone who posts or shares online content that “undermines” Qatar’s “social values” or “general order”, though the law fails to define the meaning of these terms.

    “The new cybercrimes law is a major setback for freedom of expression in Qatar,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “It contains broad and vaguely-worded provisions that fly in the face of international standards. They effectively grant the government extensive powers to punish anyone who posts or shares content that officials consider harmful to Qatar’s “social values” or national interests.

    September 04, 2014

    The Qatari authorities must immediately reveal the whereabouts and ensure the safety of two British human rights workers who went missing on Sunday and are feared to be held secretly and incommunicado in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    Researcher Krishna Upadhyaya and photographer Ghimire Gundev, who were investigating working conditions of Nepalese migrants in Qatar, have not been seen since they checked out of their hotel on 31 August. They had earlier expressed fears to friends and colleagues that they were being followed by plainclothes police on account of their work.

    “The enforced disappearance of Krishna Upadhyaya and Ghimire Gundev is extremely worrying and the pattern of events reported by the men before they went missing indicates that they may have been detained in relation to their human rights work,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “The Qatari authorities must urgently reveal the fate and whereabouts of these two men and dispel the growing fears that they are at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.”

    May 14, 2014

    Proposed reforms announced by the Government of Qatar fall far short of the fundamental changes needed to address systemic abuses against migrant workers in the construction, domestic and other sectors, Amnesty International said today.

    The proposed measures stand in stark contrast to the findings of the international law firm DLA Piper, whose report, commissioned at the government's request, confirms many of Amnesty International’s findings regarding the systemic nature of the abuse of migrant workers.

    "Based on today’s announcement the proposals appear to be a missed opportunity. The government claims it is abolishing the sponsorship system, but this sounds like a change of name rather than substantive reform,” said James Lynch, Amnesty International’s researcher on migrants’ rights in the Gulf.

    “In particular, it remains unclear how proposed reforms to the exit permit will work in practice, and whether under the new proposal employers will retain the ability to object to workers leaving the country.”

    May 06, 2014

    Qatar’s government must introduce sweeping reforms to protect migrant workers and tackle domestic violence in order to meet international standards, said Amnesty International, ahead of the country’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva tomorrow.

    The Gulf state has come under increasing international pressure to prove its commitment to human rights since it won its bid to host the 2022 World Cup. It has been widely criticized for its treatment of migrant workers and for the lengthy imprisonment of a Qatari poet.

    “Despite repeated assurances that change is afoot, Qatar continues to fall short with severe restrictions on freedom of expression, incidents of torture in detention and laws that enable the exploitation of migrant workers and fail victims of domestic violence,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “The government has acknowledged that reform is needed to bring the country in line with international standards yet efforts to introduce concrete measures have been sluggish at best.

    April 22, 2014

    Originally posted 23 April 2014 00:01 BST

    The Qatari authorities are failing to protect migrant domestic workers who face severe exploitation, including forced labour and physical and sexual violence, Amnesty International said in a new report published today.

    “My sleep is my break”: Exploitation of domestic workers in Qatar paints a bleak picture of women who have been recruited to work in Qatar on the basis of false promises about salaries and working conditions, only to be made to work extreme hours and seven-day weeks. Some women described how they were subjected to appalling episodes of sexual and physical violence.

    “Migrant domestic workers are victims of a discriminatory system that denies them basic protections and leaves them open to exploitation and abuse including forced labour and human trafficking," said Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Global Issues Director.

    February 11, 2014

    Following an initial review into the Qatar 2022 workers’ welfare standards published today, Amnesty International has issued the following response.

    "The standards represent a positive - if partial - effort to prevent some of the worst abuses from taking place on World Cup projects," said James Lynch, Amnesty International’s researcher on migrants’ rights in the Gulf. 

    “While this may be a good starting point, the charter will only address the concerns of a relatively small proportion of migrant workers in Qatar; those involved in the construction of stadiums and training grounds.”

    The standards will not apply to thousands of other migrant workers in Qatar including those who will build the wider infrastructure to support the hosting of the World Cup including roads, hotels and railways.

    December 18, 2013

    Released at 00:01 GMT 18 December 2013

    More than 80 migrant construction workers in Qatar who worked for nearly a year without pay on a prestigious tower in Doha’s financial district are facing serious food shortages and need urgent government assistance, Amnesty International said today.

    On International Migrants’ Day, the organization is calling on the Qatari authorities to address the plight of the employees of Lee Trading and Contracting (LTC) who were working in conditions that may amount to forced labour.

    In mid-November Amnesty International’s Secretary General visited the workers’ camp in the al-Sailiya industrial area and subsequently asked the Ministries of Labour and Interior to address the situation at the company as a matter of priority.

    “It is now one month since we visited these men and found them living in desperate conditions. But their ordeal has not ended,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    November 17, 2013

    Posted at 21:01 GMT 17 November 2013

    A new report by Amnesty International finds Qatar’s construction sector rife with abuse, with workers employed on multi-million dollar projects suffering serious exploitation.

    As construction is set to begin on the FIFA World Cup 2022 stadiums, the report, The Dark Side of Migration: Spotlight on Qatar’s construction sector ahead of the World Cup, unpicks complex contractual chains and reveals widespread and routine abuse of migrant workers - in some cases amounting to forced labour.

    “It is simply inexcusable in one of the richest countries in the world, that so many migrant workers are being ruthlessly exploited, deprived of their pay and left struggling to survive,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    “Construction companies and the Qatari authorities alike are failing migrant workers. Employers in Qatar have displayed an appalling disregard for the basic human rights of migrant workers. Many are taking advantage of a permissive environment and lax enforcement of labour protections to exploit construction workers.”

    October 21, 2013

    A 15-year prison sentence upheld today by Qatar’s highest court against a man who wrote a poem considered critical of the ruling family must be overturned immediately, said Amnesty International.

    Mohammed Rashid al-Ajami, who is also known as Mohamed Ibn Al-Dheeb, was first arrested in November 2011 and charged with incitement to overthrow the ruling system and insulting the Amir of Qatar.

    “Sentencing someone to a lengthy prison term because of the content of poetry that the authorities see as critical of them but does not advocate violence is a blatant violation of the right to freedom of expression,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “Amnesty International considers Mohammed al-Ajami a prisoner of conscience held solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression. He should be released immediately and unconditionally and his verdict quashed.

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