DOHA, June 12 (Reuters) - World soccer's ruling body FIFA
and the Qatari government should overhaul labour laws for
migrant workers before the 2022 World Cup, a leading human
rights organisation said.
"The government needs to ensure that the cutting-edge,
high-tech stadiums it's planning to build for World Cup fans are
not built on the backs of abused and exploited workers," Human
Rights Watch Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson said.
Problems faced by migrant workers in the Gulf state include
exorbitant recruitment fees which can take years to pay off,
routine confiscation of labourers' passports by employers and a
restrictive sponsorship system that gives employers almost total
control over their employees, the New York-based group Human
Rights Watch said in a report.
The group cited Qatar as having one of the most restrictive
sponsorship laws in the Gulf region. Migrant workers are unable
to change jobs without their employer's permission and their
sponsoring employer must sign an exit permit before they can
leave the country.
Poor working conditions are common across the region where
impoverished men and women from South Asia have come for decades
to work on construction sites or oil projects, or as domestic
Welfare workers say the sponsorship system, in place across
much of the Gulf, and the lack of a minimum wage allow migrant
workers to be exploited.
In January, Qatar said World Cup organisers would ensure
contractors adhered to international labour laws for workers
employed in construction projects before the tournament.
Qatar has embarked on a huge building programme in the runup
to the World Cup. It plans to spend $11 billion on a new
international airport, $5.5 billion on a deepwater seaport and
$1 billion for a transport corridor in the capital, Doha. It
will spend $20 billion on roads.
The tiny Gulf state will build nine new stadiums and
renovate three existing facilities.
Qatar, where summer temperatures top 45 degrees Celsius, was
the surprise winner of a FIFA vote in 2010 to choose the 2022
host country. It plans to build solar-powered, air-conditioned
stadiums to overcome the sweltering summer heat.
(Reporting By Regan Doherty, Editing by Robert Woodward)