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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Kafala reform clears another hurdle after Qatar Cabinet gives approval

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

Long-awaited changes to Qatar’s kafala sponsorship system have been green-lighted by the Cabinet, bringing reforms one step closer to becoming enshrined in the law.

According to QNA, the Cabinet approved the draft law yesterday during its regular weekly meeting, which was chaired by the Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani.

However, the new rules still require final approval from the Emir and are unlikely to come into force until late 2016 at the earliest.

Once they take effect, the reforms are expected to make it easier for expats to leave the country and change jobs.

Waiting for change

Though proposed changes to the kafala law were announced over a year ago, it has taken several months for the reforms to be approved by various government bodies.

Additionally, progress has been slow as groups such as the Chamber of Commerce, which represents private sector business, have reportedly voiced reservations about bringing in sweeping changes.

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

Over the summer, a government spokesman said the draft law was expected to be finalized by the end of this year.

However, the chairman of Qatar’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOLSA) has previously warned that the new law would not to be enforced immediately, and that employers would have up to a year after the legislation was passed to comply with the new rules.

This “grace period,” enshrined within Article 50 of the new draft law, would also give relevant administrative and executive agencies time to set up mechanisms to deal with the new rules, the Peninsula quotes local lawyer Yusuf Al Zaman as saying.

The new law would update the existing Law No. 4 of 2009 Regarding Regulation of the Expatriates’ Entry, Departure, Residence and Sponsorship.

Full details of the draft that the Cabinet approved yesterday have not yet been revealed.

Criticism

Qatar’s kafala system has attracted considerable criticism from foreign media and human rights’ organizations in recent years for leaving expats vulnerable to exploitation at the hands of unscrupulous employers.

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

When the promise of reform was introduced in May 2014, officials declared that they were abolishing the idea of kafala sponsorship and instead replacing the system with a contract between employer and employee.

However, some human rights advocates argue that authorities are only changing the terminology and not the actual restrictions on workers.

Speaking to Doha News about the proposed reforms last year, Nick McGeehan, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, said:

“I don’t want to be too critical today … If today is the absolute and final response, it falls so short that it can’t possibly be. There must be more.”

Among the issues under scrutiny is the exit permit. Under the current system, every employee requires official permission from his sponsor before he can leave the country. This has been criticized as a breach of an individual’s basic freedom of movement.

Article 7 of the initial draft law changed the process by putting the onus on the government rather than the employer, and stated that an expat could automatically obtain an exit permit through the Ministry of Interior if he contacts them three days before leaving the country.

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

However, this is one of a number of changes that the Advisory Council expressed reservations about.

Though the council signed off on the draft law in July, members proposed several amendments to the legislation over the summer.

With regards to the exit permit changes, the council suggested that the worker first ask his employer for leave.

If he is denied an exit permit, he could then approach a grievance committee set up by the MOI. This committee could issue exit permits in case of emergencies.

However, the council is only an advisory body that can discuss and propose amendments to draft legislation that it submits to the Cabinet.

After consultation with government ministers, the Cabinet makes the final decision on the provisions of the law, which then goes to the Emir for approval.

Thoughts?

31 COMMENTS

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R.p. Upadhyaya
R.p. Upadhyaya
5 years ago

I found Nothing here.

Flammable
Flammable
5 years ago

Nothing new here.. How many more approvals needed? After Cabinet, it needs approvals from His Excellency A, B,C to X Y Z.
This is a joke. With all due respect, The Emir comfortably lied in his CNN interview a year back when he said it has been implemented and sponsorship system is changed.

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
5 years ago

this article talks about the “history” of revising the possible elimination of the khafala system….history! I have been hearing this for about 10 yrs….bla bla bla bla

MN
MN
5 years ago

What are they even afraid of? the majority of expats are construction workers who sometimes don’t make enough to eat, let alone affording airfare to leave the country. Which means the exit permit doesn’t really make a difference for these people.

Farhan Khurshid
5 years ago

Still Final Decision remaining, Still in the Final Stages ??. Great. Many people reached their final stages waiting for these laws to change..

Ali
Ali
5 years ago

Lesley, what are the changes in the new law relative to the current one?!

Peter Parker
Peter Parker
5 years ago

The whole exit permit thing is insulting. As the holder of a British passport, I’m entitled to go where I please (DPRK excepted), when I please, and having to ask permission to leave a tinpot country like Qatar is embarrassing for both parties.

andrew hall
andrew hall
5 years ago
Reply to  Peter Parker

That really is the most ridiculous jingoistic tripe I have ever seen written on this subject.

Firstly while the british passport is generally accepted to be one of the better passports to hold it by no means A. Gives you free reign to roam the earth (many more nations than simply north korea require brits to get a visa) or B. exempts you from the laws of the nations that you travel to.

Secondly as you clearly view this country as a “tinpot” nation why are you here? (presumably you are otherwise why comment).

And finally it is this sort of attitude displayed by ignorant people that continues to give the UK a bad name in this region and further afield.

WTF
WTF
5 years ago
Reply to  andrew hall

Calling Qatar “tiny”, “tinpot” etc. is a surefire way to piss Qataris off.

andrew hall
andrew hall
5 years ago
Reply to  WTF

Twas not I that called qatar tiny or tinpot my friend.

WTF
WTF
5 years ago
Reply to  andrew hall

I don’t disagree with you, my friend 🙂

Peter Parker
Peter Parker
5 years ago
Reply to  andrew hall

We’ll agree to disagree.

The Reporter
The Reporter
5 years ago
Reply to  andrew hall

Yes I wouldn’t agree with any of the phraseology but the point he’s trying to make is that a UK passport-holder doesn’t need anyone’s permission to leave the UK. He never said he doesn’t abide by the laws of any country he visits, but that doesn’t mean laws that breach human rights are acceptable. The UK has a very good name abroad despite the efforts of Mr Blair.

Bajn
Bajn
5 years ago
Reply to  The Reporter

B-liar !

Ahmed
Ahmed
5 years ago
Reply to  andrew hall

We need more of this guy and less of the obvious examples we have on Doha News.

Pete
Pete
5 years ago
Reply to  andrew hall

spot on

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  Peter Parker

Yes the rules are stupid and oppressive but no need to result to insults. Maybe a better suggestion for your UK would be for Qatari nationals to need an exit permit from the UK on each visit to make sure they have paid off parking tickets and other such fines.

RoughRock
RoughRock
5 years ago

However, the new rules still require final approval from the Emir and are unlikely to come into force until late 2016 at the earliest.

More than a year after the cabinet approved..??..!!

LOL. I can’t control it… and i don’t want to 🙂

The Reporter
The Reporter
5 years ago

Delayed just to make sure that a) Qatar can get another year of full unfettered exploitation of it’s workers without having to take any real action and b) can delay the inevitable criticism of the “changes” until the construction of WC facilities has reached the point of no return.

kigz
kigz
5 years ago

Still not final, thats the fact! Let’s just wait for the final draft.This thing is a long overdue and i don’t think if its favorable to all expat!

Yacine
Yacine
5 years ago

Ok but can you tell us what are these changes that still need to be approved by the Emir? Or is it a secret?

Ali
Ali
5 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Cosmetics !

WTF
WTF
5 years ago

It is prudent to await FIFA’s elections. If Blatter’s successor flexes muscle and takes the World Cup away there will be no need to change Kafala.

andrew hall
andrew hall
5 years ago

Can’t really judge this until the precise content of the new law is revealed. If it is in line with the previously reported amendments suggested by the advisory council then little will change.

Pete
Pete
5 years ago
Reply to  andrew hall

The only possible variance with the original draft is that it’ll be even less advantageous to expats. Place your bets now.

MarkDoha
MarkDoha
5 years ago
Reply to  andrew hall

From what I remember, the Shura Council recommendations actually made things worse – NOC only after double the contract length and max 3 sponsors and then you’re out.

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago

It’s a bit of a non story, the changes are only cosmetic so it doesn’t matter if it gets approved or not.

Ali
Ali
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Cosmetics

Guest
Guest
5 years ago

Yyyyaaawwwnn!!!!……….so what to do this weekend?

subedi
subedi
5 years ago

The funniest part is that we all are expecting the rules ‘ KAKFALA” to change so that we change to BETTER job. Grow up dude nothing of that sort will happen. They will device some more ways to entrap in a way or other.

Brijesh Valsalan
Brijesh Valsalan
5 years ago

Old wine in new bottle

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