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Reform Efforts in Qatar Are Not Addressing Human Rights Abuses

In October 2019, the Qatari government announced significant reforms allowing migrant workers to change jobs and leave the country without having to provide their employer’s consent, a key element of the sponsorship system that links migrant workers’ visas to their employers and has enabled worker abuse and exploitation.

The reforms were expected to be implemented in January 2020, however, other elements of the sponsorship system can still allow employers to have some control over workers.

Last November, Qatar entered the third and final year of its technical cooperation program with the International Labor Organization, which aims to broadly reform the conditions of migrant workers. The government has introduced many reforms in the past three years, but has not able to implement much of the uneven achievements it made.

Until the end of 2020, the sponsorship system remained largely in place and continued to facilitate the abuse and exploitation of the country’s migrant workforce.

On the other hand, Qatar expelled asylum seekers, despite enacting an asylum law in 2018, and a large number of families, arbitrarily deprived of their citizenship since 1996, have been deprived of basic human rights without clear means to restore their revoked citizenship.

Stateless members of the Al-Ghufran tribe, of whom the authorities revoked Qatari citizenship more than a decade ago, continued to be denied their rights to work, access to health care, education, marriage, establishing a family, owning properties, as well as the right to freedom of movement. So far, Qatar has not worked on fixing their status.

Qatar passes laws and regulations designed to protect the rights of workers and refugees but without effective enforcement and strict enforcement, leaving people vulnerable to abuse, thus Qatar cannot claim to defend human rights while not respecting the suffering of citizens and expatriates.

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