UN calls on Qatar to improve migrant labor conditions

Worker housing 'slum', children detained with 'adulterous' moms

11 November, 16:18

    Foreign laborers work Doha  (archive) Foreign laborers work Doha (archive)

    (ANSAmed) - DOHA- A senior UN envoy has urged Qatar to bring in laws to protect the rights of workers and allow trade unions to be formed. The UN special rapporteur on human rights of migrants, Francois Crepeau, made this statement after completing an eight-day visit to the emirate to look into the migrant labor conditions. Crepeau called on Qatar to eliminate the 'kafala' system currently in force, which allows foreign workers to leave the country or change jobs only after authorization from their employer. The news was reported by local Qatari press and the emirate's broadcaster Al Jazeera. Even though the visit by the UN special envoy had been arranged through Qatari authorities, Crepeau said he had visited some housing units for foreign workers unaccompanied by government officials. He compared the housing to 'slums' and called it 'unacceptable', noting that there was little access to water and that the rooms were overcrowded. During the eight-day visit to Qatar, the UN special envoy met with immigrants, government representatives and Qatar's National Committee for Human Rights. He also visited detention centers, especially ones in which unmarried women who have given birth are held. The crime of 'adultery' carries a prison sentence of up to a year in jail in the emirate. He described the situation as a clear violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Qatar is a party, calling on the authorities to deal with the situation in an alternative manner and enable those wishing to return to their home countries with their children to do so. The UN envoy drew up 14 recommendations for Qatari authorities, including the introduction of a minimum wage and trade unions. A more detailed report on his mission will be published in June 2014 and submitted to the UN Human Rights Council. (ANSAmed).

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