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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Human trafficking cases surge in Qatar, but number of convictions fall

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

For the second year in a row, Qatar has been put on the US State Department’s “watch list” for insufficient efforts to combat human trafficking.

In its newly released 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report, the US said Qatar continues to be ranked in the third-worst out of four classifications for “not fully complying with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.”

The report ranks 188 countries by classifying the ones that do the most to fight forced labor in tier one, and the least in tier three. Tier two includes a watch list for nations in danger of dropping to tier three.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar was downgraded last year from tier-two, the current classification of the UAE and Oman.

Meanwhile, Bahrain showed an improvement this year, moving from the tier-two watch list to tier-two.

And Saudi Arabia moved up from the worst classification to the tier two watch list. Kuwait was once again ranked tier three, a designation for governments “who do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.”

Overall, some 18 countries were upgraded and 18 others downgraded this year.

Fewer convictions

According to the report, Qatar’s government said that it did not convict any trafficking offenders in 2014, in comparison with nine convictions the year before. It continued:

“The government reported 422 identified trafficking victims, 228 of which were victims of forced labor, a substantial increase from 62 reported the previous year. Nonetheless, this did not correlate with an expected increase in law enforcement efforts to address forced labor crimes.”

Meanwhile, no employers or recruitment agencies have ever been prosecuted under the country’s anti-trafficking law, and “other existing labor protections remained weak and favored the employer,” the report stated.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

However, the State Department did point out that Qatar is making some strides toward improving the labor situation here, including increasing inspections on work sites and ratifying legislation that would require employers to pay workers via direct bank deposit.

However, this electronic wage payment system – designed to eradicate the problem of late or non-payments – has yet to take effect in the country, with the grace period for large companies ending next week.

According to the report, the government also increased its budget to support the Qatar Foundation for Protection and Social Rehabilitation’s (QFPSR) anti-trafficking efforts, from QR2.8 million in 2013 to QR3.2 million last year.

Recommendations

To help tackle issues of forced labor, the US recommended Qatar abolish or significant overhaul its sponsorship laws, and increase efforts to investigate and prosecute traffickers.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The report added that the problem is not with the law in many regards – Qatar enacted strict anti-trafficking legislation in 2011, which could result in up to 15 years in jail and stiff fines for those found guilty of the crime.

There is also legislation that prohibits the withholding of passports, but the government has not reported finding people guilty of either offense.

Additionally, because domestic workers are not part of the labor law, they continue to be particularly vulnerable to forced labor. Thus, the report’s authors recommended extending the labor law to include this segment of the population.

Looking ahead

This is Qatar’s second year on the watch list. According to CNN, a country has to move up or down after two years in this designation, as per State Department rules.

How Qatar will fare next year likely depends on whether it enacts long-awaited changes to its kafala sponsorship system.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The changes would make it easier for expats to leave the country and change jobs.

Though the Advisory Council has expressed reservations about the draft legislation, members signed off on it earlier this month, and officials have promised a final version of the draft will be completed by the end of this year.

Even if Qatar is downgraded in 2016, the move will likely have little economic impact.

Countries in the third tier are subject to US sanctions, including the withholding of financial aid, unless American officials deem it’s in their national interest to continue providing monetary support.

However, Qatar is an extremely wealthy country that hosts the largest US air base in the Middle East, so any downgrade would most likely serve as a blow to its reputation, as opposed to its bottom line.

Here’s the full report:

Thoughts?

27 COMMENTS

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Gaga
Gaga
6 years ago

I commend US for their advocacy against human trafficking and modern slavery, but the thing is, why does US always meddle with other countries? I have read the report and they include recommendations for Qatar, it sound like, ‘does Qatari government doesn’t know what they are doing and why are you ordering us to implement your opinions’?

Nuremburg
Nuremburg
6 years ago
Reply to  Gaga

They’re recommendations, not orders, and they were made at the behest of mistreated, malnourished and exploited workers. At this rate, the USA could make threats and they’d still be justified. The Qatari government can’t just sit idly by with their eyes covered and hope that the rest of the world doesn’t notice the human rights violations that occur.

Osama Alassiry AlMaadeed
Reply to  Nuremburg

Interesting “they’re recommendations, not orders” coming from somebody named “Nuremberg”

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  Nuremburg

It is funny how people with corrupt morals think they can give lessons to Qatar. While the situation here is not great, it is miles away from the abuse and mistreatment in the US. By the way, how are things in Guantanamo? Still enjoying the rectal rehydration sessions on detainees on hunger strike? and what about Homan Square (http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/feb/24/chicago-police-detain-americans-black-site and this http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/feb/26/police-black-site-chicago-washington-politicians-human-rights)? I think your country needs your criticism more than Qatar, so spare us your hypocrisy please.

Nuremburg
Nuremburg
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Of course the USA deserves more criticism than Qatar. I never objected to that, nor can I understand why you seem to think I am trying to represent the USA. Anyhoo, the ‘hypocritical’ nature of the report does not detract from its validity. If Qatar released a report on the USA’s war crimes it would not be logical to dismiss it because of Qatar’s poor human rights record. This report is based on fact. Attempting to dismiss its findings because of your personal perception of the publisher’s intent is a disservice to society.

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  Nuremburg

I agree with you, and I know that some American NGOs (not all, not the USAID for example) are doing the world a service by monitoring and reporting on human rights issues. That said, the hypocrisy part in your statement is when you say “At this rate, the USA could make threats and they’d still be justified.”. So read my comment as a response to that part. I have no issues with the rest of your comment.

Nuremburg
Nuremburg
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Well, I didn’t mean the USA in specific – it was meant to be more of a broad comment. And I didn’t mean military action. Fair enough though.

Akmal farah
Akmal farah
6 years ago
Reply to  Nuremburg

It is the short man’s syndrome.

You tell them your country is enslaving people, they tell you we are not the worse out there. This is how they are trained to think.

Nuremburg
Nuremburg
6 years ago
Reply to  Akmal farah

Indeed. To be fair, Qatar really does have some undue criticism in other regards, but humans rights really isn’t one of them. The name human RIGHTS should signify that there is no such thing as undue criticism on this topic. People in general need to realize that criticizing a country’s human rights is not the same as criticizing the country itself. But sadly, 90% of the world population still subscribes to this ‘primeval loyalty’ concept (as Edward Said coins it).

Akmal farah
Akmal farah
6 years ago
Reply to  Nuremburg

I would love to agree to their undue criticism though. Which is it? Human rights? Bribery for sporting events? Being the ally of the west and their enemies in the same time?

This blind loyalty is part of the herd behavior. People need to understand that they are humans before being a certain nationality. Patriotism is a derivative of religion in some regions, which kills any hope really.

It just hurts to know that people with functioning eyes and brains do not see the big picture Herr.

Akmal farah
Akmal farah
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Again with his good old song. Son, why not travel to the US and experience life for yourself? My friend, illegal immigrants are actually treated with more dignity in the US than legal immigrants in Qatar.

Guantanamo????!! THIS IS A JAIL! The dirtiest jail on earth. Are you comparing a COUNTRY to a maximum security jail for the baddest criminals on Earth? How do you want their treatment to be? Sheep stuffed in Rice??? My GOD!

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago
Reply to  Nuremburg

Oh yes they can – and they do.

Nuremburg
Nuremburg
6 years ago
Reply to  The Reporter

Sadly. It is not exactly casting a good light on the country’s international image.

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago
Reply to  Nuremburg

Qatar has cleverly weighed up how their international image can be promoted and worked out that the only thing that people really care about is entertainment (sports events) and trading with a wealthy country. Given that the abuse of human rights is practiced in many countries with little evident progress on improving the situation then the masses just become ambivalent about them. We only focus on them because in Qatar they are on our doorstep.

Expat77
Expat77
6 years ago

QR 2.8 million= $ 10.2 million ?

sp
sp
6 years ago
Reply to  Expat77

It should be the other way!!

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
6 years ago
Reply to  sp

Thanks for pointing this out! In retrospect, the State Department’s conversions make no sense, so have removed them and will stick with the QR figures.

Shabzed
Shabzed
6 years ago

Dear US stop advocating your “Human Rights” B$. Clean your a$$ first before pointing out your fingers to other countries.

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago
Reply to  Shabzed

I think the difference is that the abuse of human rights is not enshrined in the country’s law.

Matt
Matt
6 years ago

Shabzed, you obviously get paid your salary on time each month into a bank and also don’t spend hours at the exchange sending 80% home of QAR 700 / month a un skilled workers earns. The US is right and it is ignorance like your express that needs to change for the world to take Qatar seriously

Bajn
Bajn
6 years ago

Isn’t it easier in Qatar to change things? It is small, rich and not democratic.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  Bajn

No, because the ruling family has to appease its masses to stay the ruling family. The Qataris (not all, some get it) want slavery so it stays even if the Emir does see the shame in it and wants to change.

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago

“The changes (to the Kafala) would make it easier for expats to leave the country and change jobs”. DN wastes no opportunity to hammer home a message that is as yet totally unproven and which many have little belief in.

Cerebus
Cerebus
6 years ago
Reply to  The Reporter

Right…totally unproven that labor mobility is beneficial. Guess that tosses out 95% of the world’s perspective on workforce.

Akmal farah
Akmal farah
6 years ago
Reply to  Cerebus

95%? I’d say 99.9% 🙂

Ali
Ali
6 years ago

If only 422 cases are identified as (forced labour) in 2014, does this mean that kafala is NOT a forced labour?!

Md Nasir Uddin
Md Nasir Uddin
6 years ago

Sir I m Mohammad nasiruddin I what duing my company voltas limited me work in 4 years but no Recontak increments have a low salary only 750Qr please help me 55514372

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