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Friday, March 5, 2021

Qatar’s MOI warns of crackdown after amnesty period expires

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

Officials are reportedly planning to launch an intensive search campaign for residents living illegally in Qatar in December.

Speaking to the Peninsula, a senior Ministry of Interior (MOI) official said that strict legal action will be taken against those who don’t take advantage of the ongoing amnesty offer.

It is unlikely that the three-month period will be extended, as it is already long enough, the Director of Search and Follow Up Department (SFD) Brig. Abdullah Jaber Lebdah added.

Until Dec. 1, those living here without the appropriate visas can leave without consequences, provided they have the necessary documents.

Documentation

So far, thousands of people appeared to have taken advantage of the amnesty offer, many of them from South Asian countries like Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Some who have spoken to Doha News said they lost their legal status after fleeing sponsors who failed to pay them or who were abusive.

However, others have had trouble leaving because they lack the proper documents, including: a valid passport or travel papers, a plane ticket or reservation and an ID card or entry visa copy.

Speaking to the Peninsula, Lebdah said that exceptions can be made in some cases based on humanitarian grounds.

‘Threat’

Last year, the MOI asserted that “runaway workers” are a “social, security and economic threat” to the country’s residents.

According to the labor law, these residents can face up to three years in jail and/or QR50,000 in fines.

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

However, the government has increasingly sought to enforce harsher punishments against the employers of these workers.

For example, businesses caught with undocumented employees risk being blacklisted, or prohibited from recruiting new employees for two years.

And those found guilty of sheltering or employing them could also face prison and fines of up to QR100,000.

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