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    UN human rights delegation to begin Qatar visit next week

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    Sorin Furcoi/Flickr

    The United Nations body tasked with monitoring the humans rights of migrants will make its inaugural visit to Qatar next week.

    Amid numerous media reports about labor violations here, UN special rapporteur François Crépeau is scheduled to visit the country from Nov. 3 to 10 to assess the living and working conditions of low-income expats.

    “Qatar has the highest ratio of migrants to citizens in the world,” Crépeau said in a statement, estimating that approximately 88 percent of the country’s population are foreign nationals, most of whom are employed in construction, the service industry and domestic work.

    His eight-day itinerary includes meetings with government officials responsible for migration and labor, representatives from the expats’ countries of origin as well as migrants themselves. Crépeau, a law professor at McGill University in Canada, also plans to visit a prison and a migrant detention center, UN officials said.

    Increasing scrutiny

    His mission comes one month after a delegation led by international trade union BWI visited Qatar and called on the government to do more to protect the rights of migrant workers by allowing them to form unions, banning companies from withholding employees’ passports and abolishing the kafala sponsorship system, among other measures.

    Qatar’s human rights record is increasingly coming under scrutiny as the country ramps up construction ahead of the 2022 World Cup, which is expected to require roughly 1.5 million expats to move to Qatar to work on tournament-related projects.

    In response to recent criticism, Qatari labor officials pledged to hire more translators and increase the number of inspectors from 150 to 250 in an effort to better enforce existing laws protecting workers.

    Crépeau is scheduled to hold a press conference on the final day of his visit and table a full report to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2014.

    Thoughts?

    Peter Kovessy
    Peter Kovessy is a reporter with Doha News. Prior to moving to Qatar in 2013, he was the editor of the Ottawa Business Journal in Canada. He holds a Bachelor of Journalism degree from Carleton University.

    11 COMMENTS

    1. First stop brunch at the Four Seasons with evenings drinks at the Ritz. Next day shopping with the wife at Villagio to pick up a collection of new hangbags and rolexes, followed by dinner at the St Regis and nightcaps at the Kempiniski. The following morning a showing of a video of happy workers enjoying their gym, swimming pool and spa facitilies in their camp and thank yous from the labourers to the Qatari government for the marvelous treatment they recieve.

      Then it’s back to the Premium Terminal to catch their First Class flights back to Europe and the US while polisihing off a bottle of Dom Perigon. Job done, report submitted, nothing to see here.

    2. No visits to the public hospital to see the endless lines of workers rolling in with missing fingers, blood pouring out of their heads, broken limbs, etc.?

    3. Meanwhile 4 labourers die whilst cleaning a septic tank at about 8pm last night. I am sure they had all their confined space tickets, all precautions were taken and appropriate safety equipment was provided to them. (p6 The Peninsula)

    4. “Middle Eastern countries tend be worse places for expats, owing to legislation that makes it tougher for foreigners to own property and because of formal and informal social restrictions that can cut back on quality of life. The exceptions are Bahrain and Qatar, two very wealthy and very small Persian Gulf states whose governments work to attract the wealthy expats they see as crucial to building businesses there. It should go without saying that HSBC’s study does not consider “guest workers” in its measurements. Gulf states, particularly Qatar, have notorious reputations for mistreating migrant laborers from South and Southeast Asia, who work in difficult conditions and with few protections.”

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/11/05/want-to-move-abroad-this-map-shows-the-best-and-worst-countries-to-be-an-expatriate/

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