Amnesty International says security guards in Qatar are working in a situation that amounts to forced labor, including projects linked to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
In the new 63 page report- They think we’re machines – Released on Thursday, Amnesty International recorded the experiences of 34 current or former employees of Qatar’s eight private security agencies.
The report’s main searches were:
- Amnesty International says security guards in Qatar are working in a situation that amounts to forced labor, including projects linked to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
- Amnesty has documented discrimination on the basis of race, national origin and language.
- Fifteen of the guards interviewed by Amnesty were regularly deployed outside in the scorching heat, during the summer months when outdoor work was considered restricted, and in some cases without shelter or drinking water.
- Key legal reforms to address labor issues are not being implemented effectively.
The 34 staff were employed by eight different private companies that provide services for sites, including government ministries and football stadiums, as well as other infrastructure projects required for the 2022 World Cup, such as hotels, transportation systems and sports facilities. The club has provided security for at least three organizations for recent FIFA tournaments, including the World Cup and the FIFA Arab Cup.
Qatari law and regulations limit weekly working hours to a maximum of 60 hours, including overtime, and workers are entitled to a full, paid rest day each week. It reflects international law and standards – rest is a fundamental human right. Nevertheless, 29 of the 34 security guards who spoke to Amnesty said they regularly worked 12 hours a day and 28 said they were regularly denied one day off, meaning many worked 84 hours a week, until the end of the week.
Amnesty’s report also found that four companies were still not paying the overtime required by law, meaning they were cheating within eight days’ pay each month.
Amnesty’s in-depth interviews with 34 current or former security guards, supervisors and security officials between April 2021 and February 2022, based on previous 2017-18 interviews with 25 security guards from a security company. The continuity of their accounts in multiple companies indicates that these abuses are systematic. All in all, thousands of migrant workers are employed in Qatar’s private security sector – a significant workforce often faces considerable work pressure and in some cases very severe torture.
Stephen Cockburn, Amnesty International’s head of economic and social justice, said: “Employers are still exploiting their workers, and the Qatari authorities must take urgent action to protect workers and hold the perpetrators accountable.
“Many of the security guards we spoke to knew that their employers were breaking the law but felt powerless to challenge them.
“Physically and mentally exhausted, workers continue to report for fines – or worse, termination of contracts or threats of deportation.
“Despite Qatar’s progress in recent years, our research suggests that abuses in the private security sector – which will be in increasing demand during the World Cup – will remain systematic and structural.
“With the World Cup just a few months away, FIFA must either focus on doing more to curb the inherently dangerous personal security sector, or see the tournament as further distorted by abuse. More broadly, FIFA must use its leverage to pressure Qatar to better implement its reforms and enforce its laws. Time is running out fast – unless better practices are established now, abuse will continue long after fans leave home. “
Sky Sports News contacted FIFA for comment.
FIFA, meanwhile, has not responded to Amnesty International’s allegations, instead citing an earlier letter from them to Amnesty International and the Supreme Court’s contact.