Migrant workers in Qatar face serious abuse

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Migrant workers in Qatar face severe abuses that in some cases amount to forced labour, an international rights group said yesterday as it urged the Gulf nation to enact reforms ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

In a 146-page report, Human Rights Watch, based in New York, calls on the football governing body Fifa, international contractors and the Qatari government to ensure that the cutting-edge stadiums being built for the tournament are not constructed by abused workers.

Issues faced by labourers include exorbitant recruitment fees, unpaid wages, squalid living conditions and a sponsorship system that gives employers inordinate control over their employees, the report says.

Already comprising 94 per cent of the country's workforce, as many as a million additional migrant workers are expected to be recruited over the next decade to work on mammoth infrastructure projects ahead of the football tournament.

In response to Human Rights Watch's allegations, Qatar's Ministry of Labour said it had received no complaint of forced labour and it was "inconceivable" that such a thing existed in the country.