Qatar denies Amnesty claims of migrant worker exploitation

A general view shows the Al Bayt stadium, built for the 2022 FIFA World Cup soccer championship, during a stadium tour in Al Khor, north of Doha, Qatar, December 17, 2019. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

LONDON, Nov 16 (Reuters) - The government of Qatar said on Tuesday its labour system is still a work in progress but denied accusations in a report by Amnesty International that thousands of migrant workers in the 2022 World Cup host nation were being trapped and exploited.

A 48-page report by Amnesty, Reality Check 2021, said that practices such as withholding salaries and charging workers to change jobs was still rife, despite labour reforms in 2014, as the country prepares to host the soccer tournament next year.

"Apparent complacency by the authorities is leaving thousands of workers at continued risk of exploitation by unscrupulous employers, with many unable to change jobs and facing wage theft," Mark Dummett, Amnesty's global issues programme director, was quoted as saying by The Guardian.

"They have little hope of remedy, compensation or justice. After the World Cup, the fate of the workers who remain in Qatar will be even more uncertain."

However, a statement from Qatar's Government Communication Office rejected the claims that labour reforms have not resulted in changes on the ground for thousands of migrant workers.

"Amnesty fails to document a single story from among the 242,870 workers who have successfully changed jobs since barriers were removed in September 2020, or from the more than 400,000 workers who have directly benefitted from the new minimum wage through salary increases and other financial incentives," the statement said.

"Qatar has never shied away from acknowledging that its labour system is still a work in progress," it added. "The government is committed to engaging collaboratively and constructively with international partners and critics to further improve standards for all migrant workers in Qatar."

The 2022 World Cup is scheduled to begin on Nov. 21 and will feature 32 teams.

Reporting by Christian Radnedge, Editing by William Maclean

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