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Monday, March 1, 2021

Qatar fares poorly in latest Global Slavery Index report

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Qatar is home to the world’s fourth highest concentration of “slaves” relative to its population, according to the latest edition of the Global Slavery Index.

The annual index, which is now in its second year, is compiled by anti-slavery campaign group the Walk Free Foundation, which ranked 167 countries on how many of their residents are estimated to be in modern slavery.

Slavery is defined in the index to include human trafficking, forced labor, debt bondage, forced or servile marriage and the sale and exploitation of children.

slavery index - ss1

Around 29,400 people in Qatar are reckoned by the group to be classified as slaves.

That’s about 1.36 percent of the population, based on the 2,168,673 figure the report was working with at the time it was put together. The percent puts the country in fourth place on the global table.

MENA figures

In terms of percentages, Qatar fares worse than its Gulf neighbors, with the UAE coming in 12th place with 1.06 percent of its population considered enslaved.

But, as with many studies, Qatar’s small population appears to have skewed the figures. In actual numbers, the Emirates was estimated to have more than three times the number of slaves as Qatar, at 99,000 people.

Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain also fared better as a percentage of their populations – in 45th, 46th and 47th places respectively.

And Saudi Arabia, which has one of the region’s highest number of slaves, at 84,000 people, was ranked 101th place, due to its much higher overall population.

Excerpt of global table
Excerpt of global table

Mauritania topped the rankings, with 4 percent of its population classified by the group as modern slaves (160,000 people), while India had the highest overall number – 14 million (1.14 percent of its population).

Workers

In its detailed country profile, the index focuses on Qatar’s high migrant population, particularly its large (and increasing) number of unskilled and semi-skilled workers employed in the construction industry and in the domestic sector.

Describing Qatar as “a destination for exploitation of men and women from Asia who travel to the Gulf nation with promises of well-paid jobs,” the report highlights practices that have been flagged by a number of domestic and international organizations as needing reform.

It continued:

“(Workers) are subjected to a range of exploitative practices that may amount to forced labour and domestic servitude – namely, extortionate recruitment fees, illegal confiscation of passports, withholding of salaries, excessive working hours, hazardous workplaces, unhygienic living conditions, and physical, psychological and sexual abuse from employers.”

Qatar’s restrictive sponsorship (kafala) system, while not directly responsible for the conditions of modern slavery, increases workers’ “vulnerability to exploitation” as it ties them to their sponsors, the report added.

One of the measures included in this year’s report is a classification of each country’s government response to the conditions. Qatar is given a “CC” rating, out of a scale from A to D.

Reform recommendations

Qatar’s government is commended for adopting a national action plan to combat human trafficking and an institutional framework for its implementation, and the work of the Qatar Foundation for Protection and Social Rehabilitation is also noted.

However, the report adds that there is “still inadequate commitment to comprehensively address enduring social attitudes that allow modern slavery to persist.” It added:

“Currently there is insufficient commitment to enforcing existing laws and widespread reluctance to extending the rights of domestic workers. Domestic workers remain insufficiently protected and exposed to abuse.”

A number of measures of reform at both government and business level in Qatar are recommended in the report, including:

  • Amending Article 3 of the Labor Law to ensure domestic workers, drivers, cooks and gardeners have their labor rights protected;
  • Establishing a minimum wage for domestic workers;
  • Retracting provisions in legislation about absconding to ensure that victims are not criminalized for fleeing exploitative situations;
  • Allowing workers to move jobs and leave the country without needing to obtain the permission of their current employer;
  • Investigating the recruitment practices of suppliers and sub-suppliers and work with suppliers to compensate staff that have paid excessive recruitment fees; and
  • Ensuring suppliers are paying staff to the contracted amount or national minimum wage, including premiums for overtime work.

Other reports

Many of these recommendations have already been highlighted by other human and labor rights organizations in recent years.

Last week, Amnesty International published a new report warning that Qatar was running out of time to implement meaningful change to its laws governing workers’ rights.

In its assessment of the country’s efforts to improve the living and working conditions of foreign laborers, the group said Qatar had not taken concrete steps to end the widespread exploitation of migrant workers in the four years since it won the 2022 World Cup hosting rights.

Amnesty research James Lynch said: “We have serious concerns whether there is political will to deliver the kind of solutions that are ultimately necessary to address this problem.”

Qatar has already said it would make changes in some areas.

Upcoming labor law amendments include requiring companies to pay workers’ wages directly into their bank accounts to avoid late payments or non-payment, and to make it easier for expats to switch jobs and leave the country.

The revisions to the law were expected to be discussed by Qatar’s Advisory (Shura) Council when it met last week. However no firm date has been given for when this would come into effect.

The Labor and Social Affairs Minister Dr. Abdullah Saleh Mubarak Al Khulaifi has variously been quoted in local media as saying the changes would take place late this year, or early next year.

You can see a full version of the index here.

Thoughts?

51 COMMENTS

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Loti
Loti
6 years ago

labor Law amendments will take place by before year end, then early next year, then middle of the next year and then again by the year end..so on.. till we are fed up and forget it.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Loti

Still didn’t get your NOC I see……

Loti
Loti
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Honestly yes… but at least somehow I’m in a good company.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

I am so stealing this. Know where I can find more on the same 😉

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

It’s one of mine, please feel free to use. If you want more let me know the theme

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  Loti

Who else remembers back to May, when the international law firm DLA Piper was commissioned by the Qatari government to look into issues of labor law reform. At the time, DLA Piper made it known that changes could be implemented by the end of May 2014.

Then there was a press conference in mid-May 2014, with Muhammad Ahmed Al Atiq of the Ministry of Interior saying at the press conference that he hoped that “[the reforms] will be soon, but no timeline has been fixed.”

Dr. Abdullah Saleh Al Khulaifi from the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs told us in July 2014 the reforms would take place “as quickly as possible” and “We know there is much more to do, but we are making definite progress and we are determined to build momentum and drive leadership on the issue in the region.”

Skip forward to August 2014 and we were then told by the Ministry of Interior that we can expect reforms by the end of 2014, or maybe early 2015.

By October we were told by the Qatar Chamber of Commerce to expect changes by the end of the year.

Similarly in November the Minister for Labor and Social Affairs again offered the hope that changes could be expected by the end of the year.

So… anytime soon, right?

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

You cannot rush these things, who will do the work and how will the business owners be compensated? This will be disastorous for the economy if all these people suddenly just walk away. Who will take care of them as well as they will have no jobs and will suffer a poor mans death.

Hang on, that is what the plantation owners in the Carribbean said when the UK Parliment was proposing to abolish slavery in all British Terrorities. (and that was in the early 1800s….)

DADAC
DADAC
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

lols… it’s pay back time…

Loti
Loti
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

And right now they pledged it will be announce by early next year….Yeah right… I’m hoping anytime soon

Loti
Loti
6 years ago
Reply to  Loti

I am hoping but I don’t have idea how long is “anytime soon”

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

As someone said on the wife beating story you are looking at this the wrong way and not seeing the postive side. Qatar is in the top five in the world and that is something to be proud of.

Loti
Loti
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Yeah they are being at the top because of the help and contribution of their so called “slaves”

Chilidog
Chilidog
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

I think what you mean to say in other words, 98.64% of people in Qatar are not slaves! 🙂 Hooray, and great work!

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Chilidog

You’re right I missed that point, that really is great news. No society can be perfect but that is very close to a perfect 100%.
Anyway the Indians should be happy, they have the most slaves in the world and at least when they get to Qatar they are better paid slaves. If they don’t like it they can go back home to their really bad slavery.

Chilidog
Chilidog
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

I mean, 98.64% is over 2.1 million people that actually get paid consistent fair wages on time and can switch jobs whenever they wan…… hold up, what? Not true? Bummer. Not as great as I initially thought.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

I don’t really see the problem, if slaves are treated fairly and are given their full rights under the law and under the religion of the land then who has the right to complain. This is just racist, islamphobic propaganda perpretated by the West to undermine our peaceful and just soceity for their financial gain.

Guest
Guest
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

“if slaves are treated fairly and are given their full rights under the law and under the religion of the land” – That is all “ifs” dude and that’s the problem.

Loti
Loti
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

“if slaves are treated fairly and are given their full rights under the law and under the religion of the land then who has the right to complain” – That is all “ifs” dude and that is the problem.

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
6 years ago
Reply to  Loti

Ummm, I’m quite confident that MIMH meant that tongue in cheek.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Loti

I’ll actually quote my friend Yacine from the other story.

“Islam promotes slavery? Definitely false. It actually promotes freeing slaves whenever possible”

See its postive, where it is possible we will free slaves. If the slaves are treated justly then all parties should be happy.

Loti
Loti
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Sorry, but i don’t thinks so… but don’t get me wrong
because I don’t have any problem with Islam and my personal opinion is that Islam
has nothing to do with this (personally), it’s about changing the system of the law, it’s
hard to believe right now what you have said, freedom here is not an issue, people are crying for their rights for years now…sick and tired of
promises, many people (slaves) died, abused, exploited etc. already but the
amendment of the law is moving very slowly just like they are holding it back.
how many fathers or members of families will die till this newly reformed law will take
place? so your answer will be “where it is possible we will free
slaves” yeah sure.. thanks!

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago

I fail to see how the report can say that the Kafala isn’t directly responsible for the exploitation of migrant workers. I believe that DN publishes these articles at the behest of the Qatari government so that the general reader will think “there, the Qatari must now be in no doubt as to what’s wrong and surely now they’re taking it seriously and something will happen”. And we wait, and wait, and nothing happens, and eventually the penny will drop that it never will.

sadam
sadam
6 years ago

One simply does not Forget to put China on top of the list in the Global Slavery Index

Ibrahim Khan
Ibrahim Khan
6 years ago

I think that’s still moderately reported, there are more than 200 thousand labors and they all are modern slaves for sure.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  Ibrahim Khan

To right brother

Ali El Ali
Ali El Ali
6 years ago

What matters is Qatar in the Top 5 :p

sicti
sicti
6 years ago
Reply to  Ali El Ali

Indeed, another win 🙂

Bornrich
Bornrich
6 years ago

Human rights, in their basic form, are there to ensure people are treated humanely, aren’t persecuted and don’t die unnecessarily. Some posters to the board may be confusing human rights with equality and fairness. It will help the workers if we make the distinction.

Drac
Drac
6 years ago

‘Modern Slaves’ or ‘Slaves’ with quotation marks are proper terms to report the findings of the Index. However, in this article under ‘Mena Figures’, the term ‘slaves’ is used freely without quotations. This is extremely offensive. These exploited people are not slaves. They are employees treated disgracefully in a manner as one would expect slaves to be treated. If you want to try to mislead us with the pathetic excuse of Qatar having a smaller population, at least get the writing in order.

Pete
Pete
6 years ago

Come now Doha News. Your assertion that Qatar’s small population has skewed the figures is mathematical nonsense. In fact, looking at the figures per capita is the only fair Means of comparison.

Michael L
Michael L
6 years ago
Reply to  Pete

Great minds ….

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael L

I think Doha News is trying to placate the usual crowd who will say ‘but this is biased against Qatar… look at the UAE, they have 90,000 “slaves” and they are ranked #12… and Saudi Arabia has 84,000 “slaves” and they are ranked #101… so why should Qatar be ranked #4 when there are “only 30,000 slaves” in the country… this is just more Qatar bashing from the jealous western countries’?

Michael L
Michael L
6 years ago

Doha news your grasp of statistics continues to be poor … the figures are not ‘skewed’ by the small population, the only fair way to compare across populations is to use percentages. The use of headline figures would skew. Poor reporting.

DADAC
DADAC
6 years ago

If you need to get permission for everything you need/want/and deserve in life (to get a driver’s license, to buy a car, to get married, to get a loan, to get a credit card, to travel abroad, to bring your family, to ride a bus, to go to the toilet)… then you are a slave!

that makes 90% of Qatar population S.L.A.V.E.S.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  DADAC

Excactly, everyone is oppressed in Qatar, well nearly everyone.

greylag
greylag
6 years ago

I also don’t see the UK on this list. What would ‘unpaid apprenticeships’ be classed if not slavery? And don’t tell me training- the ones I have known had to work just as hard if not harder than the paid employees of the companies they worked in. My definition of slavery- as well as a mean, greedy practice.

Canadian Observer
Canadian Observer
6 years ago
Reply to  greylag

Unpaid work apprenticeships and internships should be for limited time frames to gain experience and job references. Beyond that there is certainly a number of forums for one to complain to without fear of repercussions. So not comparable.

greylag
greylag
6 years ago

Directly comparable. There are also avenues to complain here- one’s embassy for example. Unpaid apprenticeships are uncontrolled in the UK, and completely ignored by the government. My daughter was actually told by one company that if they had to pay her, they couldn’t afford her. This when she already had a Masters degree in her subject. The MD drove a Mercedes. Not excusing ‘slavery’ anywhere, but we should recognise that it takes all forms, and adversely affects those subjected to the abuse.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  greylag

Did they house her in a fetid room with 20 others? Did they confiscate her passport on arrival?

greylag
greylag
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Yes. She had to share a small flat with four other girls in the same boat. There was one toilet/shower to share. She didn’t need a passport- she didn’t have any money to go anywhere, unless her parents provided it. and this is a university graduate with a Masters Degree. Living conditions in London for most young people starting out are squalid at best. Cold, roaches, barren. Believe it. And for most who have no decent education, this is the way they will live long term. So she should work for free to get ‘experience’?

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  greylag

Your daughter had choices. Like it or not she knew it was unpaid going in correct?

The “slaves” here are not informed of the policies here and most, if not all, are ignorant of what will happen. Do you think that they’d come knowing the salary promised will be cut at least in half? Do you think that they’d come knowing that they will be housed in squalid conditions with large numbers of others? Do you think that they’d come knowing that their passports will be confiscated and no hope of escaping bad employment policies or the country or worse that the despair will cause their health to decline and they die from natural causes, workplace accidents or in a final thought, kill themselves?

She had choices, they do not.

greylag
greylag
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

I would venture to say that the vast majority of labourers who come here know exactly what the conditions are. They come from villages in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, etc., where their friends and neighbors have been coming to these countries for decades. Do you think this development just started? Who built the towers in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, and Kuwait before that? And people are still scrambling to come to the Gulf, because where they live, there are no jobs that pay money, and no future. Go there and see for yourself- I have been.

Parwaiz Win
Parwaiz Win
6 years ago

Be it top 5… 29000 or whatever …. it is 29000 too many.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago

Only 29k? really? lol

KingOfKings
6 years ago

This simply can never be achieved. Why?

260,000+/- Extremely low skill/education nationals

1.1 Million expats? (at any time)

If Kafala/NOC is truly removed: Those expats will be switching jobs and leaving jobs at a rate where a project will take triple its time to complete. Costs will exceed the triple mark. Every company will have more people training to do their job than those doing their job. So, it will be more of a joke than what it is now.

The problem with Qatar is that the majority of its citizens are VERY uneducated. Not very, but extremely. The only difference between them and other ignorant people is that they actually like it. They love not knowing things. Even if you bring Harvard to Qatar and give Qataris a free pass and even pay them to attend, they would probably not go for it. The only reason most Qatari youth go to school is to get a the Ferrari gift from their dad when they graduate.

Rob
Rob
6 years ago

What a putrid country. Where is the shame?

Michael
Michael
6 years ago

Very sad and needs to change! Qatar is a very rich country and there could be immediate changes right away! I am praying that things do get better for the workers here and their rights are respected! The good news is Doha News is allowed to print this information so that is a sign the Qatar Government is open to change…now it needs to be enforced by the Qatar Government upon the companies…They should be given 3 months and a deadline or the World Cup 2022 and the IAAF 2019 should be played elsewhere…ACTION SPEAKS LOUDER THAN WORDS!!!

greylag
greylag
6 years ago

Again rubbish. She worked in a pub, to make enough extra money so she could buy clothes to be able to work at the job which was paying her NO MONEY! all these guys have to do is not get on the plane.

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