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SBD Global/May 15, 2014/International Football

Qatar To Amend Labor Laws To Quell Claims Of Mistreated Workers Ahead Of World Cup

Qatar said that "it will amend labor laws after the death of dozens of immigrant workers on construction projects drew a storm of criticism from human rights and labor groups," according to Robert Tuttle of BLOOMBERG. Interior Ministry officials told a press conference in Doha that "the government plans to increase penalties for employers who confiscate the passports of migrant workers" to 50,000 riyals ($13,700) from 10,000 riyals ($2,700), and stiffen penalties for failures to pay wages on time or provide adequate information. The ministry also said that "it will scrap the current system of exit permits, which requires employers’ consent for employees to leave the country." It will change a system of sponsorship, called Kafala, "under which migrants can only work for the company that sponsored their entry into Qatar." Under the new rules, "employers will no longer be financially responsible for their employees" (BLOOMBERG, 5/14). FIFA welcomed the labor law reforms announced on Wednesday by Qatar’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs as well as the Ministry of the Interior. Given these new developments in the 2022 FIFA World Cup host country, FIFA President Sepp Blatter and FIFA Exec Committee member Theo Zwanziger decided to postpone a scheduled trip in mid-May to until after the 2014 World Cup. This allows for time to gain a better understanding of the measures that were presented on Wednesday. The announced reforms confirm the expressed commitment of the country’s authorities to improve the welfare of migrant workers and to use the hosting of the World Cup (FIFA).
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