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Saturday, October 31, 2020

Nepali man jailed after employer lets Qatar residency lapse

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

In an incident that once again calls the enforcement of Qatar’s labor laws into question, a Nepali hospitality worker at a local university has been jailed by police after his employer failed to provide him with a valid ID card.

His identification had expired, and was in the possession of the man’s company.

Pramesh Lamichane, 24, is an employee of Abraj Group Qatar, and has so far spent three nights in jail.

He has been working as an office assistant at Qatar University (QU), serving refreshments to staff and guests in one of the colleges.

Earlier this week, he was out shopping in Al Shahaniyah, near his company accommodation, when he was stopped by police and asked to show his Qatar ID card.

Promesh Lamichane
Pramesh Lamichane

While it is not illegal for a resident not to carry his ID with him, he must be able to produce it when requested by an official.

Because he did not have the card, Lamichane was arrested and taken into custody at a nearby police station on Monday, his colleagues said.

Speaking to Doha News, an Abraj Group manager confirmed that Lamichane’s ID card had expired six months ago, and that the company had failed to renew it.

It is understood that the expat’s contract was due to finish imminently and he was expecting to return to Nepal soon.

A senior member of QU faculty apparently appealed to managers at the company to take action and help secure Lamichane’s release.

But the university has not yet commented publicly on this incident.

The police told Abraj that a representative of the firm had to provide them with his flight ticket home and end-of-service settlement before Lamichane would be freed.

The company’s administration and finance manager Nagi Dafalla told Doha News that their PRO went to the police station yesterday to do the paperwork.

However, as of this morning, he is still in custody with CID and will not be released until Dec. 1, when he will be escorted by police to the airport for his flight home, Dafalla confirmed.

“It is true he is in jail. His ID expired on May 5. It is our fault that we didn’t renew it. It is the company’s responsibility,” Dafalla said.

The manager also admitted that there were other Abraj employees working in the country with out-of-date ID cards, but that the company is now looking to renew them.

According to the firm’s online profile, Abraj Group Qatar employs around 5,000 staff across a range of sectors including construction, maintenance, hospitality, cleaning and real estate.

‘Cases like this shouldn’t happen’

International human rights organization Amnesty International said this incident raises questions about the enforcement of Qatar’s Labor Law. Speaking to Doha News, researcher Mustafa Qadri said:

“It is a really shocking and appalling case where a worker is punished not for any error on his part, but for one by his employer.

Qatar’s labor law does offer some basic protections for its workers and, by the letter of the law, cases like this shouldn’t happen. But there are gaps in the law, and situations like this are not uncommon.”

The organization also called on employers to hold their contractors accountable.

“This is not just an issue for the authorities, but also for the parent companies which create contracts with their subcontractors. They need to sit down with them to make sure situations like this don’t happen,” Qadri added.

Qatar Foundation campus.

Some large organizations in Qatar have already signaled an intention to hold their contractors to a higher standard than the minimum requirements set out in law.

For example, both Qatar Foundation and the country’s World Cup organizing committee, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, have announced detailed workers’ charters.

Companies that do not provide the minimum living and working conditions to their employees are theoretically prohibited from winning contracts with either organization.

ID card rules

All expats in Qatar are required by law to carry a valid residence permit (RP) or visa. Along with the RP, residents are issued Qatar ID cards, which they typically need to show to gain access to government buildings and some compounds, as well as to set up and access banking services, utilities, phone networks and other day-to-day facilities.

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

The ID card is valid for the length of time of the RP and it is often the responsibility of the employer to renew staff RP and ID cards.

According to QU’s immigration handbook, for its own directly-appointed and sponsored staff, its Government Liaison Unit is responsible for renewing RPs and ID cards.

During random police checks in public areas, residents are sometimes asked to produce identification. Those who do not have their IDs with them can show them to police after retrieving them from home, for example.

Article 6 of Law 4 of 2009, which regulates expats’ sponsorship and residence rules, states that all residents should submit proof of residence or visa when required by the authorities. Article 52 of the same law applies a maximum QR10,000 fine for those who cannot present their IDs.

However, anecdotally, residents have reported in the past that police can arrest those who can’t produce a valid ID card.

Thoughts?

37 COMMENTS

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Anonymous
Anonymous
5 years ago

Just… No words. This is ridiculous. Poor guy must be terrified

DJ25Q
DJ25Q
5 years ago

An expat was arrested on the spot for not holding a valid ID ( as per the law )
An employer who kept using the staff , without renewing his RP is still doing the same to other expats ( against the law )
Why was the swift law enforcement applied to the expat only, while blind eye is turned to the employer?
This is JUSTICE redefined !

Expat77
Expat77
5 years ago
Reply to  DJ25Q

When the poor guy is released the person responsible for this lapse should take his place in jail. ..

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  Expat77

Well, if you can get the name of manager’s at Abraj, it is quite easy to put them on the UK and EU watchlist for human traffickers.

anima01
anima01
5 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

Nagi Dafalla. He is the HR Manager of that company and all issues regarding the employees of the company goes through his office.

johnny wang
johnny wang
5 years ago

Should not the authorities and the Security forces hold their employers and sponsors accountable and responsible for allowing their helpless workers to get into such avoidable situations by not only withholding their ID cards but not even renewing them for months on end, besides withholding their passports, etc. How come such prestigious universities like QU partner with such uncaring and abusive companies like the one above

DJ25Q
DJ25Q
5 years ago
Reply to  johnny wang

I had almost similar situation, yet I’m not surprised..This is how it goes, and we are still wondering why employees are underpaid, and domestic helpers are abused !
For all who are waiting for Kafala reforms I’d say Don’t be optimistic…be realistic !

Yacine
Yacine
5 years ago

This is beyond ridiculous. The poor guy is in jail and he will be deported like a thug in 3 days. The Abraj Group Qatar managers and owners need to hang their heads in shame.

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Please give them some credit, however minimal. They at least clearly admitted that they were clearly at fault and that they have others in similar situations that they are moving to regularize. I would guess that most companies in Qatar are similar, what is different about Abrar is that they accepted responsibility. I have never seen that from a Qatari organization before, this is a positive thing.

DJ25Q
DJ25Q
5 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

What’s the point of admitting their fault, while they had around six month to correct it? and yet they ignored…. I bet they would’ve succeeded if they tried at least
What is it worth to be jailed for 3 days for a crime that you didn’t commit?
Who will compensate him for that?
Can they deny their fault? definitely no.. so I see no credit in that, with full respect to your opinion.

thedrizzle96
thedrizzle96
5 years ago
Reply to  DJ25Q

Someone for sure should be fired for that failure. Wasn’t there an article on here two days ago about ID cards and how workers wouldn’t be punished if their passports etc were taken from them and then pictures of kiosks….I would also say QU should now extend their charter to those they hire and use this as an opportunity to set an example. It’s comforting to know he will be released with his end of service benefits, but a disaster that he’s being escorted out of the country like a criminal, I would question whether that goes down as a deportation and would affect his ability to work in other parts of the region if he so chooses, again tragic

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  DJ25Q

I agree, it shouldn’t have happened, the man did nothing wrong and should be seen as a victim of both is company and the Qatari’s system, and his company is clearly fully responsible. This is the how the Qatari system is, we all understand that. I just hold a tiny sliver of hope that the behaviour of Abrar will be emulated by others. What I would really like to see is the management and ownership of Abraj in the dock, but that isn’t going to happen in Qatar. I will look optimistically on what small positive steps that I see – they are so rare in Qatar that to do otherwise would drive one insane.

Ali
Ali
5 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

Try selling that in the market. “they admit they are at fault” and then claim they have more cases like this?… WOW lol. What’s different is they got caught, they take responsibility is just a fake apology and there’s nothing positive about this!

anima01
anima01
5 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

People who gets mad at employees for wanting their QIDs renewed should not be given credit at all!!

DB
DB
5 years ago

“While it is not illegal for a resident not to carry his ID with him, he must be able to produce it when requested by an official.”

This is a baffling sentence. If you can be arrested for not carrying your ID, then it seems like logically it’s illegal not to carry it.

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
5 years ago
Reply to  DB

Basically, you can tell the officer you have it in your car, at home, etc. Then go and get it and show it to him, which is ok, even if you don’t have it on your person.

Parwaiz Win
Parwaiz Win
5 years ago
Reply to  ShabinaKhatri

I doubt the police will allow a poor guy who works in construction to go and get it and show it. After all … the people responsible are out there and have admitted to breaking the law yet an innocent guy who is a slave to his employers is rotting in jail. Laws exist … but not necessarily it will extend in reality to a low income earner. Realities on the ground voids such laws.

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
5 years ago

The company should be held liable, man deserves to first be released then be compensated by the company for his pain and suffering

disqus_21uQ1hXhE0
disqus_21uQ1hXhE0
5 years ago

What a waste of police time and resources. The government is paying for a man to be jailed who did nothing wrong, and who was waiting to leave the country. Where’s the sense in that? Fine the company so they never do it again, and leave the poor sod alone.

Loti
Loti
5 years ago

I don’t know what kind of mind set is that… Jailing and deporting someone who is not liable of the mistake

Bornrich
Bornrich
5 years ago

Shameful. The bow tie should go over the collar.

The Reporter
The Reporter
5 years ago

Justice Qatar style yet again. Hit the little man and let the big man go free.

Parwaiz Win
Parwaiz Win
5 years ago

Why are his employers walking around free while he who did nothing wrong is in jail ? Its amazing how the police cannot seem to differentiate between the real culprits and the innocent party !!

X3500
X3500
5 years ago

I think they should jail those who are responsible for renewing his ID rather than the poor man…. Oh well this is Qatari logic…

KK
KK
5 years ago

Slavery as usual.

SokhnaFan2010
SokhnaFan2010
5 years ago

If all the ID cards have Chips and are logged, what is stopping at the very base level, some form of checking per employer. Surely an expired card is flagged with a failure to renew window? Go after the employer first, employees have enough stress already!

hohum
hohum
5 years ago

Qatar…. By far the most unjust country I have ever lived in. This would not be an isolated case, there would be hundreds (if not thousands) of people locked up in Qatari prisons through no fault of their own. I have been one of them.

I can remember when I was falsely imprisoned watching an Indonesian taxi driver being thrown into my cell crying, having asked him why he was locked up he said that he returned a handbag which was left in his taxi. When he handed it into the police the owner of the handbag claimed he had taken 3 thousand US dollars from the bag.

The above story does not surprise me at all.

johnny wang
johnny wang
5 years ago

If employers and sponsors don’t or are not willing or have forgotten to renew their employees ID card then what can the poor employees do. The employee is then at the mercy of his Sponsor who most probably does not even have a clue or is even bothered about the situation. Would not going after the sponsor make more sense for the authorities rather then locking up this innocent and helpless workers

Saeed Ahmad Khan
Saeed Ahmad Khan
5 years ago

Once again… Keep that labor law in museum. poor chap. Instead of deporting him why not renew his id and give him a respectable job in a respectable organisation

Saeed Ahmad Khan
Saeed Ahmad Khan
5 years ago

The police takes advantage only of a poor and weak person

Jane
Jane
5 years ago

This poor man was jailed for something he is not responsible for and yet the owners and managers of Villaggio and Gympanzee have not spent a single day in jail when guilty of the manslaughter of our children, ten others and four teachers.
Absolutely disgusting and outrageous!

Observant One
Observant One
5 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Exactly Jane…disgusting..but that is Qatar for you…

Ali
Ali
5 years ago

These things shouldn’t take place from the beginning. This guys is one of the thousands of people who have this issue. Thanks to the sponsorship system, if there was no sponsorship system he would’ve renewed his ID or left the country long time ago. The system should have been in place before his ID got expired but so far we just hear rumors.

anima01
anima01
5 years ago
Reply to  Ali

You are a 100% percent correct Ali. They don’t care about their employees, all they care about is they continue getting money from their partners. They don’t even care if the salaris delayed every month and by delayed it means 15-25 days of waiting for the employees.

Net-guy
Net-guy
5 years ago

reads like a faked story…
there is no way a company would take the blame..
that might lead someone to believe the company failed in their duties
really seems this is a hoax released by AI to stir up HRV’s in Qatar..
nice try AI..

MarkDoha
MarkDoha
5 years ago

I’m sure Qatar University would want to consider whether they should continue to do business with Abraj Group. Poor guy sitting in a prison, while those responsible sit at home. Let’s hope that Abraj Group give him a very generous settlement to make amends.

anima01
anima01
5 years ago

That company has much more issues than the renewal of QIDs. They also have issues regarding accomodation situations. The ladies accomodation alone is so disgusting. One room holds 12 ladies, another holds 10. In one of the rooms of their accomodation all the ladies there don’t have closets because they don’t hae space to put it up on.

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