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Amnesty International claims Qatar labor abuse remains rampant

Amnesty International claims Qatar's government has done little to improve labor conditions despite international outrage over the issue. The country is hosting the 2022 World Cup and relies heavily on foreign workers.

Amnesty International has described the labor reforms promised by Qatar as mere "tinkering," saying, "Despite massive public exposure of the appalling conditions faced by most migrant construction workers, the Qatari authorities have done almost nothing effective to end chronic labor exploitation."

The announcement from Amnesty International on Tuesday comes on the 5th anniversary of Qatar winning host status for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Workers have complained of not being paid and of having little leverage against powerful employers.

Qatar's Labor Ministry declined to comment on Amnesty's statement. A ministry official dismissed similar reports by NGOs as aiming to "create negative publicity about Qatar abroad."

A wage protection system that required companies to pay salaried workers by electronic bank transfer came into force in November, after legislation was signed by Qatar's Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. Those laws also gave foreign workers the right to appeal to a government committee if their employer does not sanction their exit. Qatar has denied exploiting workers and says it has implemented labor reforms.

However labor activists and rights groups say the reforms do not go far enough and that workers are still required to get their employer's permission to change jobs or leave the country.

Qatar has nearly $200 billion (189 billion euros) worth of infrastructure projects planned. Hundreds of thousands of workers have been recruited from countries such as India, Nepal and Bangladesh to work in Qatar.

According to figures seen by Reuters at the Indian embassy in Doha, at least 260 migrant workers from India have died in Qatar in 2015.

av/gsw (Reuters, AFP)

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