Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Qatar: Migrant workers mistreated in Qatar

Qatar, a tiny Gulf monarchy, might be known worldwide for its stunning wealth, ambitious Middle Eastern diplomacy and unprecedented winning bid to host a World Cup, but beneath the country's lightspeed rise to prominence lies a class of unprotected, often forgotten migrant construction workers whose lives can amount to forced labour.

The workers, most of whom have immigrated to Qatar from South Asia, say many are lured by irresponsible companies who make false promises of big salaries and good conditions before withholding paychecks and taking away passports once the workers arrive.

Qatari law requires that wages be paid on time and housing meet minimum standards of comfort, but most companies are never forced to comply, according to a new Human Rights Watch report. Qatar does not have a minimum wage, has not signed key international human rights agreements and prohibits unions, the report said.

Al Jazeera's Charles Stratford reports from Doha.