As part of a renewed push to crack down on undocumented workers in Qatar, the Ministry of Interior has announced that more than 40 expats and nationals involved in supporting the illegal practice have been sentenced to jail time.
In a statement, the MOI did not specify the specific crime for which these residents will spend one to three years in prison. But according to the Peninsula, the convicted are executives of private companies who were found guilty of “visa trading.”
The ministry’s Search and Follow Up Department (SFD) has also referred some 50 companies to the public prosecution and booked 84 other cases related to visa trading, which is presumably the buying and selling of work permits here.
The total fines for violating the labor law amounted to $1.2 million (QR4,270,000).
In the past, Qatar has drawn criticism for concentrating on rounding up undocumented workers, rather than the businesses supporting them. It now appears to be turning its attention the latter group.
In yesterday’s statement, SFD director Col. Nasser Muhammad al Syed is quoted as saying:
“The campaign results have proved that the fake companies have key role in raising the number of illegal and absconded workers in the country where their large presence had made threats to the social security of the state.”
…He (also) pointed that the Ministry of Interior handled the victims with humanitarian manners by which more than 1,000 workers could transfer their sponsorship to other agents.”
Another example of the MOI’s growing attention on businesses that violate the labor law is upcoming harsher punishments for companies and individuals who hire undocumented workers. These firms would be blacklisted and not allowed them to recruit new employees for two years.
Under the new regulations, which take effect May 1, those who allow their sponsored employees to work for others could be also be blacklisted, for a period of one year.
This is in addition to measures already in place under the labor law, which include a punishment of up to three years in jail and QR50,000 in fines for absconding workers. Those found guilty of sheltering or employing them could also face prison and fines of up to QR100,000.