June 12, 2012

III. Abuse of Migrant Workers

Like most migrant workers throughout the Gulf region, migrant construction workers in Qatar face a host of systemic policies and practices that impede their basic labor rights. Workers pay exorbitant recruitment fees in their home countries, taking on debts that leave them desperate to keep their jobs in Qatar regardless of the working conditions. Recruiting agents often provide inadequate information or deceive workers about the jobs they will perform or the salary they will earn. Many workers see no written agreement until they arrive in Qatar, while some never see one at all. Between workers’ recruitment debts and shoddy contracting requirements that fail to guard against deception, workers risk being subjected to forced labor, or conditions of human trafficking. Qatari law does little to address the abuse that prevails throughout workers’ recruitment processes.

While neighboring countries such as Kuwait and Bahrain have begun the process of sponsorship reform, Qatar’s Sponsorship Law remains one of the most restrictive in the Gulf region, leaving workers at the mercy of their sponsoring employers. Workers cannot change jobs or leave the country without their sponsor’s written permission. While the law does allow transfer in cases of abuse, government authorities rarely granted such transfers in practice. Redress mechanisms provide some relief, but remain time-consuming and difficult to access. Coupled with the wide-scale reports of passport confiscation, workers are effectively trapped in their jobs. With little proactive enforcement by the government of protective laws on the books, workers have few options to seek redress for abuses.

Protection Gaps in the Recruitment Process

Migrant workers obtain jobs in Qatar through two main routes. Some workers approach recruitment agencies in their home countries, which work either with Qatar-based recruitment agencies or contract directly with employers in Qatar to provide requested manpower.[97] Other workers find jobs through personal contacts—a friend, family member, or acquaintance already in Qatar whose employer has asked them to recruit others for jobs, or who have learned of job opportunities through contacts at other companies and help workers migrate, generally in exchange for compensation.[98]

Recruitment Fees

Of the 73 workers interviewed for this report, 69 said they paid recruitment fees ranging between US$726 and $3,651 in order to obtain their jobs in Qatar, borrowing from private moneylenders at interest rates that ranged from three to five percent interest per month to 100 percent interest on their debt per year. Even workers who migrated through personal contacts said they paid recruitment fees, as their contact either arranged their migration through a recruitment agency that charged fees, or asked for money in exchange for facilitating the worker’s placement.

ILO Convention 181 concerning Private Employment Agencies states that “private employment agencies shall not charge directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, any fees or costs to workers.”[99] The convention does not restrict this ban to licensed agencies, but defines a private employment agency as “any natural or legal person, independent of the public authorities, which provides … services for matching offers of and applications for employment, without the private employment agency becoming a party to the employment relationships which may arise therefrom.”[100] Thus, the convention prohibits informal labor brokers and middlemen, as well as government-licensed agencies, from charging workers recruitment fees. It places an affirmative obligation upon governments to regulate these practices by investigating informal recruitment, and penalizing offenders where necessary.

Though Qatar has not ratified the Private Employment Agencies Convention, it represents best practice under international law. Because recruitment fees trap thousands of workers in jobs they may not have agreed to before migrating, in abusive conditions, or conditions otherwise unsatisfactory to the worker, the Qatari government has an obligation to regulate these fees, and to prohibit practices which could lead to workers’ exploitation. Construction companies also have human rights obligations to avoid exploitative practices that keep their workers in situations of forced labor. Yet Qatar has not taken adequate steps to protect workers from these fees. While the Labor Law prohibits recruitment agents licensed in Qatar from charging workers fees or expenses associated with their recruitment, it does nothing to restrict Qatar-based recruiting agents or employers from working with recruiting agencies abroad that charge such fees.

It is not against the law that the worker pay any extra fees before coming to Qatar, Mohammed al-Obeidly, director of the Labor Ministry s Legal Affairs Department, told Human Rights Watch. [101] The problem is from the sending countries. If there is any fee in Qatar, there are procedures against the agencies. [102] A letter from the Labor Ministry responding to additional queries from Human Rights Watch added that “regarding the levying of fees by some manpower firms in labor-exporting states, this may indeed happen because it is outside the control of the Qatari Ministry of Labor, although the Ministry does work to limit this by asking the governments of these countries to supply it with the names of licensed, authorized recruitment firms, in order to direct employers to deal with them, through meetings of the joint committees with these countries or via their embassies in Doha.”[103]

The letter added that “Qatar has concluded bilateral agreements with all countries that export labor to Qatar. These agreements have been concluded between the government of Qatar and the governments of other countries, and are ratified by royal edict. In turn, they have the force of law and are obligatory for employers. Article 8 paragraph (a) states that the employer bears all costs of the worker’s travel from his country to the workplace in Qatar when coming for the first time and his return expenses. The employer also bears the cost of the worker’s round-trip journey during the vacation specified in the labor contract.”[104]

Despite these precautions, Human Rights Watch found that workers it spoke to nearly universally continue to report paying fees, or in some cases report that employers deduct the cost of recruitment fees from their salaries. Only adequate monitoring and enforcement procedures—procedures that do not rely on workers to initiate complaints—can turn these written agreements into real, effective protection for workers. As a start, the government should require employers to obtain notarized statements from recruiting agents, in Qatar and abroad, verifying that they have not charged any workers they have recruited for the country with any recruiting fees.

In addition, though the Qatari government response pinned responsibility for the problem of workers’ recruitment fees almost exclusively upon agencies abroad and protection gaps in labor-sending countries, a recent World Bank study indicates that, in some cases, the fees paid outside of Qatar appear to go to Qatari agencies in the end. A 2011 World Bank study on migration from Nepal to Qatar estimated that 43 percent of the fees workers paid to recruitment agencies in Nepal actually went to middlemen or recruitment agencies in Qatar, compared to the 12 percent that went to Nepali agents.[105] Qatari law also does not specifically require employers to pay all employment-related recruiting fees, regardless of where they are charged, or to reimburse workers for any such fees they may have paid before migrating.[106]

It appears that in fact some Qatari recruiting agencies deliberately hide the profits they make when workers pay recruiting fees to evade penalties under the Labor Law. The World Bank study found that Nepali recruitment agencies regularly send commissions to agencies in Qatar through informal transfers so as to avoid payment records, and to work around the law prohibiting them from receiving fees from workers. The study estimated that agents in Qatar receive between US$17 million and $34 million in commissions from Nepal each year.[107] “Legally, you can put in the agency agreement that the employer should pay [all recruitment expenses],” a recruitment agent in Qatar told Human Rights Watch, “but most [employers] say ‘let the worker pay.’ They want the worker to take the loan over there, pay [his] ticket, pay [the recruitment] fees to the agency.”[108]

In order to pay recruitment fees in their home countries, workers we interviewed said that they sold their most valuable assets or mortgaged family property, taking loans at high interest rates from private money lenders. Ashok P., a 40-year-old worker from Sri Lanka, said he paid 120,000 Sri Lankan rupees (US$1,092) to get his job in Qatar. I sold my motorbike and my wife s gold chain, he said. For the balance [of the money], I took a private loan. Per 100 rupees (US$0.91) [I borrowed], I owe 5 rupees (US$.05) each month. [109] Arif J. from Bangladesh, 28, said that his family sold their farming land to pay his recruitment fee of 6000 Qatari riyals (US$1,647) to an acquaintance in Qatar. [110] Masud K. said he paid 270,000 Bangladeshi taka (US$3,651) to obtain a job as a construction worker: [111]

I took a bank loan to pay the agent; [they charge] 100% interest yearly. After one year, if I get one lakh (US$ 1,333) from the bank, I owe them one lakh interest (US$ 1,333). It’s a private bank; they are working illegally. But only they loan money.
I have to pay in one year. If I don’t pay, the bank will kick my family out of our house.”[112]

Like Masud K., many workers face dire consequences if they do not receive their salaries on time or cannot repay the loans they took to fund their migration.

Recruitment fees constitute a major factor keeping workers in jobs where employers abuse their rights—including conditions of forced labor and human trafficking. The Ministry of Labor, in a letter to Human Rights Watch, stated that “the Ministry has received no complaint of forced labor and it is inconceivable that such a thing exists in Qatar, as the worker may break his contract and return to his country whenever he wishes and the employer cannot force him to remain in the country against his will.”[113]However, conditions of forced labor are not obviated by the right of a worker to break his contract and return home. When workers owe thousands in recruiting fees, are not free to find new employers, and do not have custody of their passports, they are, in fact, in conditions of forced labor.

Under international law, forced labor is defined as “all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily.”[114]According to the ILO, “menace of penalty” can include: “… financial penalties, denunciation to authorities—including police and immigration—and deportation, dismissal from current employment, exclusion from future employment, and the removal of rights and privileges.”[115]Human Rights Watch spoke to workers who said they had requested their employer’s permission to quit their job, and had been refused such permission unless they paid additional money. For example, Raju S., a 20-year-old worker from Nepal, said that an agent told him he would work as an office boy in Qatar, and make 1200 riyals (US$329) per month. He paid the agent 130,000 Nepali rupees (US$1,781). When he arrived, his employer gave him a contract to work as a “construction helper,” making only 600 riyals (US$165) per month. When he initially refused to work, his employer said he would have to pay an additional 1000 riyals (US$275) to break his contract. He told Human Rights Watch, “I have this loan, so I’ll end up staying.”[116] Sharif A., a local construction company owner, said, “A lot of companies here take advantage of [the worker]. They know he’s stuck here, [and that] he owes money. So they take advantage.”[117]

Qatari law does not specifically require employers to pay all employment-related recruiting fees, regardless of where they are charged, or to reimburse workers for any such fees they may have paid.[118] Even in some cases where employers did pay such recruiting fees, Human Rights Watch found that employers shifted recruitment costs to workers by deducting their wages upon arrival, leaving many workers with debts on top of those incurred in their home countries. Himal K., an 18-year-old worker from Nepal who had worked in Qatar for one year, said that to cover his visa fee, his employer deducted 100 riyals (US$27) from his salary for four months, then 50 riyals (US$14) each month thereafter. He understood that 1400 riyals (US$384) would be deducted in total from his salary. Himal K. said he also paid 100,000 Nepali rupees (US$1,364) to an agent in Nepal to get his job. He questioned his company supervisor about the salary deductions, since he had paid fees already. “My company manager said, ‘that’s not our problem. Our agreement is [for you] to pay [the fees] here.’”[119]

Sandesh P., another Nepali worker, said “I had to pay 1,200 riyals (US$329) to my company for my visa. I paid it within two months, directly from my salary. I [also] paid my own [air] ticket.”[120] Bijay R., 23, told Human Rights Watch that he paid 80,000 Nepali rupees (US$1,045) to get his job as a carpenter on a hotel construction project, but in Qatar his employer deducted 1200 riyals (US$329) from his salary to pay for his visa.[121] Twenty-two workers said they paid fees either directly to their employers or to middlemen in Qatar of between 250 and 3000 Qatari riyals (US$69 to $824).

Deception in Recruitment and Coercive Contract Procedures

Though workers take on significant debts to fund their employment in Qatar, few of them have accurate or complete information about the jobs that await them, making the migration process a gamble in which workers risk being trapped in jobs that they never agreed to, or receiving salaries far below what they counted upon earning. Of the 73 workers interviewed by Human Rights Watch, only 19 said they had signed contracts in their home countries, and only six said those contracts accurately reflected the job and salary they had in Qatar. Most workers interviewed for this report said that they either did not sign contracts before migrating, or signed one contract before departure and a new contract upon arrival in Qatar. “Employers change the contract; they make [workers] sign a new contract,” said N.L, an expatriate resident who teaches migrant workers in Qatar about their rights. “A lot of workers come here for one job, then [employers] make them do another job.”[122] Workers who took on large debts in their home countries and committed to paying high interest rates on loans found that agents had lied or misled them about the salaries they would earn, or even the jobs they would have, in Qatar. Some workers said that they received as little as half the wages they had been promised before migrating, or found themselves with little choice but to accept jobs they would not have agreed to had they known the truth.

A pamphlet detailing workers’ rights, published by the Ministry of Labor, states that “prior to arrival to the State of Qatar the employee must obtain a written work contract signed by him and the employer with whom he will work.”[123] However, no law or regulation requires employers to obtain signed contracts from workers before they come to Qatar (rather than after their arrival), or penalizes the practice of contract substitution. A letter from Ministry of Labor officials to Human Rights Watch states that labor agreements signed with labor-sending countries:

“… specif[y] two types of contracts. The first are those contracts concluded inside Qatar, which require the approval of the Qatari Ministry of Labor and the Doha embassy of the labor-exporting country. The other type is that concluded in the exporting country. This must be approved by the Ministry of Labor in the exporting country and the Qatari embassy in the country.”[124]

In practice, nearly all workers interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that they had signed contracts after arrival in Qatar, and had received their work permits only after doing so. Thus, employers who simply present workers with a contract upon arrival, even if that contract provides inferior terms to the agreement made or contract signed in the worker’s home country, face no penalty for doing so.

Qatar’s Labor Law requires employers to provide three copies of workers’ employment contracts, written and attested to by the Department of Labor.[125] Of the three copies, the employer should keep one, provide one to the employee, and deposit one with the Department of Labor.[126] The Labor Ministry has also issued a model employment contract, which ministry officials said that workers should sign before migrating.[127] Officials added that Qatar has signed bilateral agreements with labor-sending countries that call for recruitment agencies abroad to use Qatar’s model employment contract, and to provide the worker with a contract copy. However, these agreements are not publicly available, and employers who violate their terms face no legal penalties, nor can workers invoke these intergovernmental agreements for legal protection in their individual cases.

Qatar also fails to require employers to provide employment contracts in a language workers can understand. The Labor Law states that “all contracts and other documents and written instruments provided for in this law shall be in Arabic,” and specifies that while “the employer may accompany such contracts, documents or written instruments with translations into other languages,” it “does not require translation into a language that would allow the worker to understand its content…”[128] Ashok P., a Sri Lankan construction worker, told Human Rights Watch, “the agreement is [written] in the English language. [Workers from] Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lankans can’t understand English; they don’t read English. The company doesn’t care about [their needs].”[129]

Many workers who signed new contracts upon arrival in Qatar appeared to have done so under coercive circumstances. Employers provided contracts in Arabic and English, they said, though many migrant construction workers either cannot read, or do not read these languages. Some workers said that employers forced them to sign contracts on the spot, sometimes at odd hours, without explaining their contents. Bhanu K., a 22-year-old migrant from Nepal, said that a recruitment agent in Kathmandu misled him about the terms of his contract in his country, telling him he would be a “civil foreman” and that he would make 1,200 riyals (US$329) as a starting salary.[130] When he arrived, he had no chance to review his new contract because his employers told him to sign at midnight, and did not give him time to read it.[131] In Qatar, he worked as a construction laborer, and made only 750 (US$206) riyals per month.[132] Raju S., a 20-year-old Nepali worker, said that prior to his arrival he signed a contract to work as an “office boy” for 1,200 riyals (US$329) per month, but after he arrived in Qatar his employers gave him another contract, which said he would work as a carpenter for 600 riyals (US$165) each month.[133] Sudeep G., from Nepal, said that while he signed an employment contract in Nepal, he realized it was a “fake contract for a fake company” when he arrived in Qatar. He said he had no choice but to sign the new contract his employer gave him.[134] Contracts workers sign in their home countries are not valid or legally enforceable in Qatar unless they have been approved and filed with Qatar’s Labor Ministry.

Some workers said their employers simply signed their contracts for them. Ashok P., a 40-year-old worker from Sri Lanka, said that he did not sign a contract before leaving Sri Lanka. Though he saw a work contract in Qatar, he said, “my company signed it for me.”[135]

The New Doha International Airport

According to FIFA’s evaluation of Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid, the New Doha International Airport, which “will be the main gateway to Qatar for staging the FIFA World Cup,” is being built at a total cost of US$13 billion.  The airport is expected to have a processing capacity of 50 million passengers per year.  In January 2004, Bechtel was awarded a contract to design and manage construction of the New Doha International Airport.

Human Rights Watch interviewed three workers who said that they worked at the new airport site and alleged that the companies for whom they worked—which did not include Bechtel—did not respect their rights. One worker alleged that his employer made illegal salary deductions, one said that a recruitment agent in his home country promised a different, and to him preferable, job than he was later assigned to in Qatar, and one said that the labor broker who arranged his migration had promised him a higher salary before he migrated; that before departing he had signed a contract written only in English; and that he did not know or understand its contents.  All three said that they had paid recruitment fees in order to obtain their jobs and did not have their passports in their possession.

These workers did not claim to be in Bechtel’s employ. Instead, they said that they were employed by local “manpower companies”— companies that supply additional labor to other companies seeking to supplement their workforce in the short or medium term. They asked us not to identify their employers for fear of reprisal. Construction companies and contractors in Qatar frequently hire short or medium-term labor through manpower companies.

Bechtel’s Code of Conduct states that “Bechtel does not tolerate activities that support trafficking in persons or the use of child labor or forced labor in the performance of Bechtel contracts by our employees or our subcontractors” and that the company “expect[s] our partners, subcontractors, and suppliers worldwide to be guided by these principles as well.”  Human Rights watch sent a description of our findings to Bechtel on May 15, 2012, and invited a response to questions about its policies and procedures in relation to labor rights. Bechtel replied by explaining that its role as project manager at the New Doha Airport includes a responsibility to manage contractors and subcontractors on behalf of its client, including by establishing labor standards and following up on contractual requirements that address working conditions.  Citing the two labor disputes it said had arisen since its contract began in 2004, Bechtel said it used a “proactive approach” that entailed mediating a resolution in both cases.

The company did not specifically respond to the allegations that construction workers at the airport reported to Human Rights Watch. It limited its comment to this statement: “Like many organizations, we do not claim to have all the answers, but we continue to strive to make a difference in those areas where we believe we can have the most impact.”

This reply left unclear whether Bechtel felt that it could achieve impact in relation to the issues raised by those workers, although Human Rights Watch had made specific recommendations for actions the company could take in addressing the issues raised, particularly with regard to payment of recruitment fees and retention of workers’ passports. The company did not endorse those recommendations in its letter, instead stating that it felt the New Doha Airport project “should be credited for its efforts to achieve positive labor conditions.” The correspondence is attached as part of an appendix to this report.

By the time workers arrive in Qatar, they effectively have little choice but to sign the agreements employers place in front of them. Workers cannot switch sponsors unless they can prove that their sponsoring employer violated the terms of a valid employment agreement, and they cannot leave the country unless their sponsor secures an exit permit for them.[136] Article 53 of the Labor Law states that workers can terminate employment if they can prove that “the employer or his representative …  misled the worker at the time of entering into the service contract as to the terms and conditions of the work.”[137] However, this provision does not cover misrepresentations made by recruitment agents or middlemen in the recruitment process, who may not have direct relationships with employers or be considered their representatives.

Violations of the Labor Law, Terms and Conditions of Employment

Workers also reported violations of their rights, including practices that violated Qatar’s Labor Law, in their work. Qatar’s Labor Law and accompanying regulations provide specific standards in important areas, including workers’ housing, timely payment of wages, annual leave, and end-of-service bonuses. Critical shortcomings, including the lack of a minimum wage as well as protections for free association and collective bargaining, are discussed in Section V. The law permits employers to deduct up to five-days’ wages for disciplinary purposes, and up to 50% of workers’ wages per month to settle debts or loans to the employer. The law does not prohibit employers from deducting workers’ wages to cover visa fees, food costs, or other expenses. However, it does require employers to pay workers every month, or every two weeks, depending on their employment contracts.[138]

Human Rights Watch found that many workers enjoyed no enforcement of even those protections provided by law. Sharif A., a construction company owner in Qatar, said, “There are a lot of laws, but nobody follows up. It’s the luck of the draw; you never know what you are heading into here.”[139] “Our company doesn’t follow any rules,” said Rajan J., a Nepali worker. “Qatar makes rules, but they don’t follow.”[140]

Low Wages, Underpayment, and Nonpayment of Wages

Low wages, nonpayment, and underpayment of wages topped the list of complaints reported by migrant construction workers in Qatar. One worker interviewed by Human Rights Watch said he made only 590 riyals ($US162) per month, or $6.75 per day, while the majority of unskilled construction workers interviewed said they earned between 700 and 1000 riyals (US$192 to 275) per month, or US$8 to 11 per day (including a food allowance that some companies pay workers to cover their food expenses).[141] Most worked between nine and eleven hours per day, and spent up to four additional hours in transit to and from their worksites.

Many workers interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that, though food prices and other expenses had increased dramatically over the course of their employment, their salaries had remained the same or had failed to keep up with inflation. The basic salary at my company is 600 riyals [US$165] whether workers have been there for two years or ten years, said Rajan J., a Nepali construction worker. All [of the] laborers are struggling the salary is low, then we have to cover expenses. Some people get only 500 riyals [US$137].

The average GDP per capita for Qatari nationals is $88,222 per year, or $7,352 per month, and in September, the government announced wage increases of between 60 and 120 percent for Qataris working in the government sector. [142] Meanwhile, consumer price inflation rose steadily in 2010 and 2011 due primarily to rising food costs (the main monthly expenditure for most construction workers), according to Qatari government data. [143]

Even with the prevailing low salary levels, many workers reported that their employers arbitrarily deducted from their salaries, while some said that their employers had not paid them for months. A 2011 study on migrant labor by the Qatar Human Rights Committee, which surveyed 1,114 migrant workers in the country, found that 33.9 percent of workers surveyed said they were not paid on a regular basis.[144] Qatar’s Labor Law requires companies to pay workers’ salaries monthly, at a minimum.[145] A letter from Ministry of Labor officials to Human Rights Watch added that “the Ministry conducts monthly inspections of all companies and institutions and audits their accounts to ensure that workers receive their wages,” and that “administrative sanctions—up to the automatic suspension of all the company’s transactions—are imposed on those companies that do not pay their workers’ wages at the specified time. They may be also referred to the judiciary, as the non-payment of wages is considered a criminal, punishable act.”[146]

Despite these measures, most workers interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that their companies had policies of withholding between one and three months’ wages at the outset of their employment as a “deposit salary” to prevent them from quitting jobs early.[147] Employers told them they would receive the money at the end of their contract term. Abdul M., a worker from Bangladesh, told Human Rights Watch he had worked in Qatar for three years, and that his construction company employed more than 5000 workers. “Three months [after I arrived], I got my first salary,” he said.[148] Bhanu K., a Nepali worker, told Human Rights Watch that his company took two-months’ salary as a “balance,” or deposit that they would pay when he returned to Nepal.[149] Workers who do not receive their salary from the beginning of their employment must borrow money from friends or purchase items on credit in order to pay for food and other living expenses. Their recruitment debts mount as they cannot make payments and additional interest accrues, while their families go without vital support.

Other workers said their employers deducted wages to pay costs including visa fees, food, and medical insurance. Abdul M., a worker from Bangladesh who did road and construction work around Qatar, said that his company deducted 120 riyals (US$33) each month, 17 percent of his salary of 700 riyals (US$192), to pay for food.[150] Ajit T., who worked as an electrician, said that his company deducted 200 riyals (US$54) from his salary to pay for things like bedding, plates, and soap.[151] Rishi S., a Nepali construction worker who told Human Rights Watch that he was employed by a manpower company and working on the new Doha airport, said that his company deducted 100 riyals (US$27) yearly to pay for his health insurance card.[152]

Unlike the United Arab Emirates, which implemented the electronic Wages Payment System in 2009, Qatar does not require employers to pay workers electronically. Nearly all of the workers interviewed by Human Rights Watch received payments in cash, rather than through bank accounts, making it significantly more difficult to monitor whether employers paid wages as required by law. A letter from officials at the Ministry of Labor to Human Rights Watch, sent November 1, 2011, states that “Currently, the Ministry is working to eliminate the non-payment of wages in coordination with employers and the country’s banks, via the payment of wages through banks. This idea has been well received by companies and institutions that employ a large labor force, and as this experiment is universalized, complaints of late or non-payment of wages will decrease.”

The Labor Law currently requires employers to produce records proving payment of workers’ salaries every six months.[153]The Ministry of Labor letter stated that “the Ministry conducts monthly inspections of all companies and institutions and audits their accounts to ensure that workers receive their wages.” However, workers interviewed by Human Rights Watch reported that employers withheld their salaries, or did not pay them for months at a time. E.M., a longtime expatriate resident of Qatar who has spent years assisting migrant workers in distress, told Human Rights Watch that with workers she meets, “… there’s always a payment problem. Big companies don’t pay, then contractors don’t pay, then subcontractors don’t pay [their workers].”[154]

Housing Conditions

Most migrant construction workers in Qatar live in what are called “labor camps,” or communal accommodations meant to house large groups of workers. Some companies maintain company camps, while others rent space for their workers in camps owned and maintained by another company. Human Rights Watch also interviewed workers who lived in villas—large houses subdivided to accommodate workers — and workers who slept at their work sites. While some workers said they lived in clean rooms with adequate space and good facilities, others lived in cramped, unsanitary, and inhumane conditions.

Qatari regulations on worker accommodation state that no more than four workers should be housed in a room, that space provided for each worker must be at least four square meters, and that employers should not provide “double beds” (bunk beds) for workers.[155] They require employers to provide workers with a mattress and bed coverings, an air-conditioning unit “sufficient and suitable” for the room, and a water cooler for every 20 workers.[156] However, all workers interviewed by Human Rights Watch for this report said they slept in bunk beds. At all six of the labor camps Human Rights Watch visited, rooms housed between eight and 18 workers, and some workers reported sleeping in rooms with as many as 25 other people. As N.K., an expatriate journalist who regularly covers migrant labor issues, observed, “Most of the laborers in Qatar are housed in what they call ‘labor camps.’ When you look at them, you will call them shanties or slums. Twenty to thirty people [have to share] one bathroom. Six to 20 people live in one room. Maybe [there’s] a problem with water. In some cases, the AC doesn’t work at all.”[157]

At one of the labor camps Human Rights Watch visited in Doha’s Industrial Area, workers slept on wooden planks, rather than foam mattresses.[158] They said their employer told them he would deduct the cost of mattresses from their salary; one worker said he had been sleeping on his plywood bed for five years. Workers also complained of mold in their room, saying that the stench was overpowering. They added that at one point, their air-conditioning unit had broken and was not repaired for a full year. During that time, some of the workers slept on the roof of the building for relief from the heat. At another camp, near al-Khor, eight workers shared a room in which they said the air conditioning had not worked for two weeks.[159] Despite normal summer temperatures of up to 45 degrees Celsius (114 degrees Fahrenheit), their employer had yet to fix it.

Some workers said they lacked adequate potable water in their accommodations. Ajit M., an Indian worker living in Doha s Industrial Area, told Human Rights Watch, We have to keep a bucket of water because we can t use the line water [from the pipes]. We had to buy the bucket from our salary. It s not clean. [160] Manor R., a worker from Nepal who lived in a remote camp near al-Khor, said, Pure water is only available sometimes. We have to get water from another camp [and] store it. [161] According to a study by the Qatar National Human Rights Committee that surveyed 1,114 construction workers, 17.3 percent of those surveyed said that their employers did not provide drinking water at their accommodation. [162]

Health and Safety

Construction workers in Qatar are exposed to dangers including extreme heat and sun exposure, hazardous chemicals, equipment malfunctions, falls on building sites, and other work-related hazards. The Labor Law requires employers to inform workers of hazards before they begin work, to provide safety instruction, and to cover the cost of treating work injuries as well as providing compensation.[163] The Ministry of Labor further informed Human Rights Watch that, “regarding occupational safety and health, there is a department in the Inspection Directorate tasked with inspecting occupational safety and health, which inspects factories and workplaces on a daily basis.”

Qatar’s Labor Law further requires employers to report workplace deaths and injuries to the Labor Department and the police.[164]

However, Qatar currently publishes no national data on workplace injuries or deaths, and the Labor Law does not require employers or government authorities to make this information publicly available. The website for Qatar’s National Health Strategy, a government-published strategic plan to improve health care in the country, includes the following findings on occupational health:

Workplace injuries are the third highest cause of accidental deaths in Qatar….  Although occupational health legislation exists in Qatar to safeguard the health of workers, many employers do not seem to be in full compliance with some of its provisions.[165]

A November 2011 letter from the Ministry of Labor, responding to our request for data on workplace fatalities, stated that “Over the last three years, there have been no more than 6 cases of worker deaths. The causes are falls.”[166]The letter stated that data on worker injuries was provided as an attachment. However, Human Rights Watch received no such attachment, and the data was not provided in response to follow-up requests.

The Ministry of Labor’s casualty report for a three-year period falls significantly below the number of worker deaths reported by a single labor-sending embassy in just one year. In January 2011, Gulf News reported that the Embassy of Nepal in Doha recorded the deaths of 191 Nepali workers from all causes in 2010, attributing 103 (51 percent) to cardiac arrest, though workers do not fall into the age group typically at risk of cardiac failure, and 19 to work site fatalities.[167]

Like many of the protections provided under the Labor Law, workers reported inconsistent protections despite Qatar’s legal standards on workplace safety. While some workers said that their employers provided safety training before asking them to begin work, others said they received no training despite the dangers of their job. Hari S., a 30-year-old worker from Nepal, worked for a construction company that specialized in waterproofing and sealing. He said:

The work is very dangerous. I have to wear about 50 to 60 kilos on my body and take it up to the work site on a building … there’s absolutely no safety on the job. I haven’t fallen off yet, luckily, but three or four of my friends have fallen from around two stories high. I just scratched my eye—the company doesn’t provide safety goggles, so I have to buy [them] myself. I guess it was not good quality.
I just want someone to make sure my company follows safety regulations; I never see any inspector.[168]

Imran N., a worker from Bangladesh, told Human Rights Watch that after fourteen years of working for a company that specialized in painting and plaster decor, he had developed an allergy to chemicals he mixed with paint, as well as chronic back pain. Scars covered his forearms, which he said he had gotten from working with toxic chemicals. Because he did not have medical coverage, he said, “I spent too much money in [the] hospital, [and] visited so many private doctors. I spent 2,600 riyals (US$714) for doctors. My company still hasn’t paid one riyal.”[169]

Some workers reported that their employers blatantly disregarded risks to their health and safety, demanding dangerous tasks that they had little choice but to perform. Omar J., a worker from Bangladesh, said that he didn’t receive any safety training before beginning his job laying cables and pipeline.[170] “Sometimes the job is very dangerous because we have to go 100 meters, 200 meters inside the pipe [we are working on]. Sometimes we can’t get oxygen. We don’t do this in front of safety inspectors, but as soon as they are gone, the company tells us, ‘go, go!’”[171]

Construction workers in Qatar face high risk of heatstroke and dehydration, with temperatures reaching up to 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) in the summer months.[172] In 2007 Qatar passed a ban on midday work between June 15 and August 15.[173] The decree prohibited outdoor work between the hours of 11:30 and 3, and required employers to provide workers with a shady place to rest. However, Human Rights Watch saw workers at work during these hours on several sites during our June 2011 visit, after the ban went into effect. While some of the workers interviewed for this report said their employers gave them a mid-day break, others said that they continued to work during these hours, even in hot summer months. [174]

Problems in the Sponsorship System

Migrant construction workers in Qatar are subject to a sponsorship (or kafala) system that gives employers inordinate control over workers in their employ, leaving them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Qatar maintains one of the most restrictive sponsorship systems in the Gulf region. Sponsoring employers have virtually unchecked authority to cancel a worker’s residence visa (leading to detention and deportation), to deny permission to change jobs, or to refuse workers the exit visa required before they can leave the country. In May 2012 Undersecretary of Labor Hussain Al Mulla told local media that “the sponsorship system will be replaced with a contract signed by the two parties,” and that “the contract will stipulate the rights and duties of each party and will impose specific matters that the foreigner has to respect.”[175]His announcement leaves unclear, however, how a commercial employment contract will replace Qatar’s current system of immigration regulations that tie workers’ residency in the country to a specific employer. Furthermore, there is no information about the specific timetable for abolishing the sponsorship system.

Having ratified ILO conventions 29 and 105 on forced labor and its abolition, Qatar is legally obligated to “suppress forced or compulsory labor,” defined as “all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily.”[176] The ILO Committee of Experts explained that “menace of penalty” may be a penal sanction, or “loss of rights or privileges.”[177] Such privileges include loss of legal residency status and the ability to work legally, as well as the loss of the right to return to one’s own country.[178]

Human Rights Watch has repeatedly documented how the sponsorship system, which exists with some variations throughout the Gulf region, allows sponsoring employers to extract work from migrant workers under conditions that amount forced labor. Even when workers voluntarily migrate for work, they often have limited or incorrect information about their employment arrangements and restrictions on rights. Recruitment “on the basis of false promises” of “good wages and good working conditions” does not constitute voluntary consent, according to the ILO, meaning that even workers who willingly migrate to Qatar find themselves in situations of forced labor when recruiting agents deceive them about their salary or job.[179]

Qatar’s immigration Sponsorship Law restricts migrant workers’ ability to change jobs at will. Under Law No.4 of 2004, the Sponsorship Law, every worker who comes to Qatar must have a local sponsor who undertakes to provide employment and supervise the worker’s legal stay in the country, and to provide their return ticket home upon completion of work.[180] The Sponsorship Law prohibits migrant workers from changing jobs without their employer’s consent; even when employers fail to pay competitive wages, provide decent conditions, or meet the conditions of the employment contract, workers cannot simply change jobs.[181] The law requires employers to report workers who quit their job without permission for “absconding,” an offense leading to their detention and deportation from the country.[182] Finally, it requires workers to secure exit permits from their employers before they can leave the country.[183]

Qatar’s neighbors, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain, have all amended their sponsorship regulations so that workers can change employers without consent after working for a certain period of time under their original sponsor. Yet Qatar lags behind, with workers requiring their sponsor’s permission to change jobs whether they have worked in their service for two years or twenty. Qatar remains one of just two Gulf countries, the other being Saudi Arabia, to maintain the burdensome requirement that workers obtain exit visas from their sponsors before they can leave the country.

Passport Confiscation, Freedom of Movement, and Forced Labor

Human Rights Watch found that employers’ failure to secure work permits for their employees, as well as the practice of confiscating employees’ passports upon arrival, restricted workers’ freedom of movement under international law. The ILO has also identified confiscation of passports and other identity documents as a key indicator of forced labor.[184] Employers hold passports to keep workers from leaving without their permission and “protect their investment,” since they have incurred costs that may include work permit and residence visa fees, bank guarantees, recruitment agency fees, and training costs, or to guard against finding themselves short-staffed.

Aspire Zone

The Aspire Zone is the site of the Khalifa Stadium, a proposed site for World Cup matches included in Qatar’s winning bid.[185] A Qatari company, Aspire Logistics, is responsible for “building, operating and managing” sport facilities at the Aspire Zone, according to the company’s website.[186]Emiri Decree number 1 of 2008 designated it “the custodian company of the sports precinct.”[187]

Human Rights Watch interviewed a group of seven Nepali workers at the Aspire Zone who said that their employer had not paid them for three-and-a-half months, and that they wanted to return home to Nepal. They said that their sponsoring employer demanded money in exchange for granting them permission to leave, and that because he held their passports, they were reluctant to quit and attempt to return home.[188] All of the workers said that they had paid recruitment fees and did not have their passports, though they said they had asked their employer to return these documents.

The workers did not claim to be in the employ of Aspire Logistics and asked us not to identify their employer for fear of reprisal. Human Rights Watch wrote to Aspire Logistics on May 15, 2012, to share a summary of our findings and invite a response to questions about its approach to labor rights issues. In a written response, Aspire Logistics stated that “companies involved in construction on-site DO have a contractual relationship with Aspire Logistics,” and that “amongst the task and scope of work to be carried out, the contracts also clearly stipulate clauses protecting workers’ rights, including conditions of employment, rates of pay, housing, health, repatriation, and contractors’ responsibilities.”[189]The company explained that it employs a third-party project manager to monitor the compliance of contractors and subcontractors with such provisions and that any violations by contractors are subject to penalty or legal sanction. It added, however, that it did not have legal control over the actions of subcontractors, whom it acknowledged in general terms may “frequently abuse workers’ rights.” To address such situations, Aspire Logistics’s letter included new commitments to monitor subcontractors and to develop a list of approved subcontractors, as well as a commitment to conduct worker-education seminars to inform workers within the Aspire Zone of their rights under Qatar’s Labor Law.

Vetting and educational outreach are worthwhile initiatives, but on their own the pledges contained in Aspire Logistics’ letter fall short of what is needed to adequately deter abuses of workers’ rights and ensure accountability for those responsible. The company did not, for example, address how it would tackle the key issue of recruitment fees for migrant workers, other than to acknowledge that the Qatari legal requirement that sponsoring employers reimburse such fees only applies for employees hired locally and that migrant workers hired from overseas enjoy no such protection. Aspire Logistics declined to endorse the specific recommendations Human Rights Watch provided on this and other issues, saying only that it would take the ideas into consideration. The correspondence is attached as part of an appendix to this report.

While Qatar’s Sponsorship Law prohibits employers from confiscating workers’ passports, Labor Ministry officials told Human Rights Watch that labor inspectors do not monitor passport confiscation, and showed little concern for curbing this widespread practice.[190] “The worker doesn’t need the passport for any procedures,” Mohammed al-Obeidly, head of the Labor Ministry’s Legal Affairs department told Human Rights Watch.[191]

In a November 2011 response to follow-up queries from Human Rights Watch, Ministry of Labor officials stressed that while “employers previously held the passport of migrant workers … this phenomenon has ended after the issuance of the law on the entry, exit, sponsorship, and residence of foreigners (Law 4/2009), which requires the sponsor to return the passport to the worker after the conclusion of all necessary measures.”[192]

However, workers interviewed for this report nearly universally reported that their employers continued to hold their passports. Ashok P., a worker from Sri Lanka, said that he had surrendered his passport against his will. “I am not giving [the passport] by myself. I am also fighting with them. But they are plucking it from my hand.”[193] Bhawan T., a Nepali worker, told Human Rights Watch that his company held his passport, and that while he could get it back if he asked, the procedure was complicated and took time. “If we need [an] emergency exit [from the country], from Nepal they have to fax a letter explaining the reason, we have to show the manager, and he will then arrange passports and tickets. It takes a minimum of one week.”[194]

Employers’ failure to secure work permits for workers in their employ also restricted workers’ freedom of movement and left them under constant threat of arrest and deportation. The Sponsorship Law requires sponsoring employers to complete residence visa procedures for their employees within three months of a worker’s arrival in Qatar.[195] However, when employers fail to obtain employees’ work permits, whether to avoid fees or because they neglect to complete the procedures, workers suffer the consequences.

Ashok P., a 40-year-old worker from Sri Lanka, told Human Rights Watch that he had worked for six months in Qatar, but had yet to receive his residence ID card, proving he had a valid work permit. “Forty people work for my company, [and] nobody has the bataqa [ID card]. [When] I ask the company [about it], the company says ‘tomorrow.’”[196] Hanif K., a carpenter from Nepal, said that when his ID card expired, his company failed to renew it, and did not respond to his queries.[197] Rishav P. told Human Rights Watch that after a year-and-a-half in Qatar, he still did not have a residency card. “The company keeps promising, but I still do not have one … Without an ID card I cannot sent money home [through money transfer agencies], so I have to give money to friends and they send it to my family.”[198] Workers who lacked ID cards feared leaving their labor camps and many said they did not leave for months while waiting for their employer to provide the card. “I can’t go anywhere without the company’s permission,” said Chandan H., a Nepali worker whose employer had not provided him with an ID card. “If I go outside, the police will catch me.”[199] Ajit T. said he had waited 11 months for his residence card. “If the police catch me, they will arrest me,” he said.[200]

Absconding Charges and Exit Permits

Under Qatar’s SponsorshipLlaw, employers must report workers who quit jobs without permission as “absconding.”[201] Employers who fail to do so face heavy fines, and remain legally responsible for workers under their sponsorship. “If someone leaves [work] without my permission, I go to the absconding department,” Sharif A., a construction company owner, told Human Rights Watch. “Otherwise, legally I am responsible for him every day he is here, if he makes a problem in the country. The law says I have to report this; otherwise there is a … fine.”[202]

Workers whose employers report them as “absconders” become illegal residents in Qatar. Even workers who have not been paid or fleeing other abuse can be reported as absconders. “People say ‘oh, they’re runaways,’ but they run away because they’re not being paid, the promises made are not being met,” said E.M., a longtime expatriate resident of Qatar who has spent years assisting migrant workers in distress. “Are they going to just sit there being victims? Or are they going to try to help themselves?”[203] “[Because of the absconding charge], we advise them not to leave,” said the ambassador of one labor-sending country. “Even if they have unpaid salary for four or five months, if the employer reports them [as absconding] to deportation, the employer has reason not to pay the salary because they are illegal.”

In response to Human Rights Watch’s query about absconding charges, Ministry of Labor officials replied:

[In cases of] workers who are reported by their sponsors for leaving their jobs, or in cases of employers violating the conditions of the labor contract or workers’ rights, the state of Qatar has regulated the relationship between the sponsor (the employer) and the sponsee (the worker) by creating a balanced relationship that allows no scope for the preferential treatment of either one. This is done through a legal framework that specifies their rights and duties, as well as the penalties for breaches of legal regulations.[204]

While their response also states that workers who have been abused may have their sponsorship transferred to another employer, they state that a total of only 89 workers have received this type of sponsorship transfer during a three year period.[205] This number represents just a small fraction of the thousands of workers who file complaints.

Anyone who shelters or employs an absconding worker faces severe penalties. In August 2011 Nasser al-Sayed, head of the Interior Ministry’s investigation department, reiterated the ministry’s no-tolerance policy towards those who violate the law: “We implement the law that stipulates that a person who gives shelter to absconding workers or employs him or her is liable for imprisonment and payment of a sum ranging from QR [Qatari riyals] 20,000($5,490) to QR 100,000 riyals ($27,450) as fine.[206] While absconding charges mean serious consequences for workers who face them, some workers feel they have little choice but to take other jobs when employers fail to pay their salaries or violate contract terms. In other cases, employers use absconding charges to punish workers for seeking redress. A representative of Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee, a government-funded human rights organization that regularly receives migrant worker complaints, told Human Rights Watch that “many times when the police or the Ministry of Labor go to investigate [absconding cases,] they find that escape reports are fabricated.”[207]

Workers who wish to leave Qatar, whether for vacation or to depart permanently, must obtain an exit permit from their sponsoring employer. Thus, even workers who obtain their passports or travel documents and find money for their return airfare cannot leave the country without their employer’s cooperation. “Even if the employee quits his job, the employer should issue him an exit visa,” said M.T., a legal advisor who has assisted migrant workers free of charge for over 18 years. Some workers told Human Rights Watch that when they asked employers for permission to leave the country, employers refused or demanded money from them. Manoj R., a Nepali worker who had been in Qatar for 16 months, migrated to Qatar thinking he would work as a driver at a monthly salary of 1,000 riyals (US$274). When he arrived, he found that his employers expected him to work as a construction laborer for only 550 riyals (US$151). “I told my manager that I don’t want to stay in this job [so] don’t renew my visa. But without my permission, the manager extended [my] visa,” he said. “Now [my manager] says, if you want to leave, no problem, but you have to pay 3000 riyals (US$824).”[208]

“If the employer refuses the exit visa, then the employee approaches their embassy. Sometimes their wife is hospitalized, their father has died. This is a very bad situation,” said R.N., an Indian resident of Qatar who has been assisting workers from his community for more than 25 years.[209]

“If the sponsor says no [to an exit visa], it’s very difficult to get the exit visa,” the ambassador of one labor-sending country told Human Rights Watch. “[The worker’s] choice is to go to court, but court will take time.”[210]

In May 2007 Qatar’s prime minister spoke out against the exit permit system. "It is difficult to retain the exit permit system in its existing form. The system is being criticised. It is being likened to slavery," Sheikh Hamad was quoted as saying in the local media.[211] However, since that time, Qatar has taken no steps to eliminate the requirement.

Inadequate Monitoring and Redress Mechanisms

“We don’t complain because if we complain for anything, the company will punish us.”[212]
—Himal K., 18-year-old construction worker from Nepal

International human rights law requires governments that wish to protect workers’ rights to take preventative measures to protect workers from abuse and exploitation. Critical elements of any protection scheme include effective monitoring of employers, work sites, and labor camps, as well as accessible mechanisms for timely redress. But Qatar’s current system of labor inspection, as well as systems of complaints reporting and redress, fail to provide effective protection against abuse and exploitation in the construction industry.

Qatar’s labor ministry has taken positive steps to inform migrant workers of their rights by publishing an informational booklet for migrant workers, and requesting local embassies’ assistance in translating the information into workers’ native languages.[213] Labor ministry officials informed Human Rights Watch that they have conducted “know your rights” seminars for workers, and conducted outreach through local media.[214] However, absent effective reporting and enforcement mechanisms, even workers aware of their rights can do little to seek protection.

Complaints Reporting and Inspections

Labor Ministry officials told Human Rights Watch that migrant workers should appeal to official agencies in case of abuse.[215] However, Human Rights Watch research in Qatar indicates that workers face significant obstacles and deterrents to registering complaints, and that workers turn to complaint registration mechanisms only as a last resort. Workers who report complaints must overcome a language barrier; at present, both the Labor Ministry hotline and the Labor Complaints Department provide services only in Arabic, a language rarely spoken by workers who migrate to Qatar for low-wage jobs in the construction sector.

Workers who report complaints risk immediate termination of their employment relationship, and expulsion from their accommodation. With no alternate source of income and no place to live should they complain, many workers tolerate exploitation and abuse rather than face the alternative. A June 2011 study from Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee found that “in most cases, if not all, the workers usually do not submit any complaints to the concerned authorities (police, the Department of Labor, the National Commission for Human Rights…etc.) for fear of losing their jobs or expulsion or deportation from the Country.”[216]

When asked how workers could seek assistance from the labor ministry if they faced difficulties, Mohamed al-Obeidly, head of the Labor Ministry’s Legal Affairs Department, told Human Rights Watch, “If anyone has a problem, any complaints, by way of hotline, by way of email, workers can complain anytime. The hotline is to enlighten workers about their rights and obligations.”[217] As described by ministry officials, the ministry hotline aims to receive workers’ complaints in both English and Arabic.[218] However, when Human Rights Watch called the number provided, the employee who answered the English-language extension said she did not speak English, and that no other employees who could speak English were available.[219] “Workers don’t use the hotline,” said R.N., an Indian resident of Qatar who has been assisting workers from his community for more than 25 years. “If you call, to whom will you speak? [For workers,] the language is not there. If I am not speaking any Arabic or English, how can I complain?”[220]

Labor inspections provide, in theory, another precautionary measure against abuse of workers’ rights. However, Qatar’s labor inspections unit employs only 150 labor inspectors to monitor compliance with Qatar’s Labor Law and accompanying regulations.[221] Obeidly, head of the Labor Ministry’s Legal Affairs Unit, told Human Rights Watch that inspectors speak Arabic and sometimes English, but none speak languages commonly spoken by migrant workers in the country and that inspections do not include interviews with workers. “[The inspector] doesn’t speak with workers so he doesn’t need to speak another language,” Obeidly said. “The inspection is an inspection of the company. They don’t need to investigate the workers.”[222] By contrast, a November 2011 letter replying to follow-up queries from Human Rights Watch stated that, “regarding the addition of interviews with workers to the inspection procedures, this measure is already in force. Article 11, paragraph 4 of Ministerial Decree 13/2005 on the regulation of labor inspection activities and measures states, “Question the employer or his representative or the worker, alone in the presence of witnesses, about any topic related to the application of the provisions of the Labor Law and its implementing decrees, in order to determine the extent of compliance with conditions mandated in these statutes.”[223]

Without available translators or inspectors who speak languages commonly spoken by migrant workers in Qatar, it remains unclear how this measure is implemented. Without speaking to workers, inspectors have no means to accurately assess whether workers have possession of their contracts, whether they receive the wages or work the hours recorded, or whether they have faced deception, threats, or conditions of forced labor.

A 2011 incident demonstrated the faults of Qatar’s current inspection regime. The Labor Law requires employers to provide on-site first-aid kits, and nurses, doctors, or a medical clinic, depending on the number of workers employed by the company.[224] It also requires employers to pay for medical treatment if their employees sustain workplace injuries, and to provide periodic medical check-ups for those involved in hazardous work.[225] However, a May 2011 article in The Peninsula, a local newspaper, stated that:

…. a number of private companies … are accused of not providing medical care to their workers in violation of the labour law, and producing fake documents to prove their compliance with the legislation….[These companies] enter into fake deals with some private healthcare providers and submit copies of the so-called contracts with the labour department to show that they are abiding by the law.[226]

Because inspectors do not ask workers directly whether they have access to health care, companies could produce fraudulent documents to prove compliance, and escape detection. The practice came to light when public hospital employees noted that particular companies dropped off sick or injured workers nearly every day, and notified government authorities. [227]

Obeidly added that inspectors do not check whether workers have their own passports, though passport confiscation remains a well-known and widespread violation of Qatari law. “If a worker has this case [of passport confiscation], he should go and present a complaint,” he said. However, Obeidly downplayed the importance of monitoring compliance with the Labor Law requirement that workers keep their own passports, saying, “the worker doesn’t need the passport for any procedures.”[228]

Obstacles to Pursuing Redress

Qatar’s current system for protecting workers relies heavily upon individual workers to present complaints of abuse or violation. However, workers reported reluctance to take this step, which many saw only as a last resort.

Qatar’s Labor Complaints Department, a dispute-resolution center under the authority of the Labor Ministry, marks the first stop for workers who wish to pursue complaints against their employer. Once a worker registers a complaint with the Complaints Department, a department employee calls the worker’s sponsor to request his participation in the dispute resolution process. Should the sponsor fail to appear at the Complaints Department for dispute resolution, the department refers the matter to the civil court system. Saleh al-Shawi, head of the Labor Ministry’s Labor Relations Department (which oversees complaint resolution), said the Department receives around 300 complaints every month and resolves approximately 80 percent of them.[229] According to statistics the Department provided to Human Rights Watch, the Department received 6,217 complaints in 2009, 4,894 complaints in 2010, and 3,630 complaints between January and September 2011. In 2009, the Ministry referred 652 cases, approximately 10 percent of the total, to labor courts; in 2010, the ministry stated that they resolved 80 percent, and referred 335 cases, or approximately seven percent of the total, to labor courts; and between January and September 2011, they referred 292 cases, or approximately eight percent, to labor courts.[230] The Department does not publish data on complaint resolution outcomes, nor does it publish the decisions themselves. Human Rights Watch asked the government for information on how these cases were resolved, but the government did not provide a response to this question.

Workers told Human Rights Watch that they remained reluctant to bring complaints to the Labor Complaints Department because they expected that once they did so, their sponsor would terminate the employment relationship and they would no longer be able to work in Qatar. Omar J., who worked for a labor supply company in Qatar, told Human Rights Watch that he received 350 riyals (US$96)less per month than he had been promised when he migrated from Bangladesh, where he paid 270,000 taka (US$3,651) to a recruitment agent.[231] He lived in a room with 17 other workers where the air-conditioning unit had been broken for two weeks, in temperatures reaching 45 degrees Celsius (114 degrees Fahrenheit), and said his company provided the workers in his camp with spoiled food.[232] When asked why he did not report his conditions, he said, “We don’t trust the Labor Department. It’s useless. If we have any complaints [about] the company, the policemen [Labor Department officials] immediately contact our Qatari employer. Then once [the sponsor] finds out, he will say ‘you people [are] complaining,’ and will cancel [our visas.] A few people were already canceled [for complaining].”[233]

Expatriates who assisted workers in distress also emphasized that workers who brought complaints before the Labor Department faced serious impediments to doing so. For the period after complaining, the worker will not get one single riyal [of his] salary, no food, no place to stay, said R.N., an expatriate who had helped members of his community for more than 25 years and observed companies reactions to worker complaints. Once they go to [the] Labor Department, the company won t keep them anymore. So they are ready to suffer [their problems, rather than going.] [234] Qatar s Sponsorship Law makes it illegal for anyone to shelter workers who have left their employer without permission. No one will accept [to shelter them] because then [you] would go to jail, R.N. added. You see some people sleeping in the park. In some cases, I saw workers sleeping near their embassies. [235]

Workers who brought complaints before the Complaints Department said that they had difficulty both reporting their complaints and surviving while awaiting resolution of their grievances. Masud Y., a Bangladeshi construction worker who had spent 14 years with his employer, said that he asked to return home after he became allergic to chemicals he used in his work and began to suffer from chronic back pain. When he told his company he wanted to return home, he said that his company manager offered to cancel his visa, but refused to pay his end-of-service gratuity and ticket home, as required by Qatari law. He said he also stopped receiving his monthly salary; at the time Human Right Watch interviewed him in front of the Complaints Department, he said he had not been paid for four months. [236]

Masud Y. added that the Complaints Department had no staff translators to assist him in reporting his complaint. Instead, he had to pay a local typing center to type his grievance in Arabic. When registering his complaint with department officials, he said, “I don’t speak Arabic, and the Qatari guy doesn’t understand me. There is one tea boy … he is making tea and sandwiches [there] … he translated for me. He knows some Arabic.”[237] Two other workers reporting complaints said they had relied upon the same informal arrangements to register their complaints.[238]

Masud Y. added that he had run out of money, and did not know how he would continue to pursue his complaint. “This is the third time I’ve come back [to the Complaints Department],” he said. “Now my pocket is empty.”[239]

Obstacles to Pursuing Court Cases

Human Rights Watch did not follow the progress of individual workers’ legal cases through Qatar’s judicial system, nor could we obtain data on legal outcomes in labor cases. However, in our research we identified some key obstacles that prevent workers from seeking judicial redress, and cause them to forfeit their legal rights. As with the Complaints Department, worker advocates and embassy officials stressed that the primary difficulty for workers who sought justice through the court system was their need to support themselves during the process: “Legally, if you have strength, place to say, some money, you can go to court,” said R.N., a longtime Qatar resident who assists members of his expatriate community in distress.[240] But few workers have such safety nets, and Sponsorship Law restrictions make it very difficult for them to change jobs.

Qatar s Sponsorship Law states that the Ministry of Interior can approve a worker s transfer of sponsorship if there are any suits filed between the sponsor and the expatriate worker, or in the event of abuse by the worker or as required by public interest. [241] However, such protections remain discretionary, and effectively out of reach for most workers. The Qatar National Human Rights Committee told Human Rights Watch that they regularly receive migrant worker complaints, and that they only handle claims in which they believe the worker has a valid complaint. [242] While the Committee forwards requests for sponsorship transfer to the Interior Ministry, a Committee representative told Human Rights Watch that the Interior Ministry granted only 20 percent of the sponsorship transfers they requested on workers behalf, and rejected the remaining 80 percent. [243] To be honest, we are not having so many positive replies. [244] In its June 2011 study on the conditions of construction workers, the Committee reported that in 2006-2007, the relevant Ministry of Interior department announced that of 1,294 applications to transfer sponsorship based on claims of abuse, the Ministry granted only 340 transfers, or 26 percent of the total number of requests. [245] In a letter dated November 1, Ministry of Labor officials informed Human Rights Watch that “the Interior Ministry, through its competent bodies, applies Article 12, paragraph 1 of Law 4/2009, which requires the temporary transfer of a migrant worker’s sponsorship in the event of any cases pending before the courts between the sponsor and the migrant worker, until the case is settled, after which the fate of the migrant worker is decided in light of the court ruling. Over the last three years—2009, 2010, and 2011—there have been 100 cases in which sponsorship has been temporarily transferred.”[246]

Thus, many workers who sought judicial redress had to wait without income or legal lodging while seeking resolution of their claim. The Labor Law requires employers to pay workers who have abandoned work without providing official notice or receiving permission for seven days after their last day of work. [247] In practice, even when workers try to continue work, employers often oust them from the company labor camp and cease paying their wages in retaliation for their complaint, worker advocates repeatedly told us, though no law permits suspension of a worker s salary in these circumstances. Between lodging a complaint and [a] court [judgment], it can take one year. Who feeds and lodges [the worker]? E.M., an expatriate resident who assists workers in distress told Human Rights Watch. [248]

Advocates and embassy staff also identified court fees as an obstacle for workers seeking redress. Qatar’s Labor Law states that all lawsuits filed by workers seeking redress under the Labor Law should be treated “with urgency” and exempted from judicial fees.[249] Labor Ministry officials insisted that courts should never charge workers fees in order to hear their claims.[250] However, two ambassadors from major labor-sending countries, as well as their labor attachés, identified a 500 riyal (US$137) deposit as a major setback for workers who had sought assistance from their embassies and tried to pursue court claims.[251] “We have the receipts,” one told Human Rights Watch. “They require them to pay or the case will not proceed.”[252] The Qatar National Human Rights Committee also found in a June 2011 report that “the worker must pay the fees of the expert estimated at between 300-500 riyals [US$82 to $137], although the provisions of the Labor Law require considering labor cases expeditiously and without court fees.”[253]

“Most of the workers have been working without salary for five or six months, [so] where will they get 500 riyals?” another ambassador of a labor-sending country pointed out.[254] Embassy staff said they could not legally shelter workers at their embassies, which made it difficult to assist workers in distress. ““[Workers] find it very difficult to stay in Qatar for three to four months with no food, accommodation, or salary, [in order] to pursue their complaint,” the ambassador of a labor-sending country told Human Rights Watch. “In most cases, workers … surrender their rights and go back home [after paying] their own tickets.”[255] In the November 2011 letter to Human Rights Watch, Ministry of Labor officials included data showing that a total of 1,279 complaints were referred to the judiciary between January 2009 and September 2011, but stated elsewhere in the letter that the ministry had granted only 100 workers temporary sponsorship transfer, according to the provision of the law that requires such transfer when legal cases are pending between workers and employers.[256] The discrepancy reveals that in less than 8 percent of cases referred to the judiciary did workers obtain legal sponsorship transfer in order to pursue justice through the legal system.

[97]Human Rights Watch interview with Setu R., Doha Industrial Area, May 26, 2011; interview with Rohit T., Doha Industrial Area, May 28, 2011; interview with Akshay R., downtown Doha, June 17, 2011.

[98] Human Rights Watch interview with Dilan K., Doha Industrial Area, June 15, 2011; interview with Arif J., Doha Industrial Area, June 16, 2011; interview with Omar H., al-Khor, June 24, 2011.

[99]ILO Convention No. 181 concerning Private Recruitment Agencies, adopted June 19, 1997, entered into force May 5, 2000, art. 7.1.

[100]Ibid., art.1.

[101]Human Rights Watch meeting with Nasser al-Mannai, Director of Recruitment Department, Mohamed al-Obeidly, Director of Legal Affairs Department, and Salih al-Shawi, Director of Labor Relations Department, Ministry of Labor, Doha, Qatar, June 22, 2011.

[102]Human Rights Watch meeting with Nasser al-Mannai, Director of Recruitment Department, Mohamed al-Obeidly, Director of Legal Affairs Department, and Salih al-Shawi, Director of Labor Relations Department, Ministry of Labor, Doha, Qatar, June 22, 2011.

[103]Letter from Qatar Ministry of Labor to Human Rights Watch, November 1, 2011.

[104]Ibid.

[105]The World Bank, The Qatar-Nepal Remittance Corridor: Enhancing the Impact and Integrity of Remittance Flows by Reducing Inefficiencies in the Migration Process, (Washington DC: World Bank, 2011), p.9.

[106] Law No.24 of 2004, art.33.1.

[107]Ibid, p.12

[108] Human Rights Watch interview with Ramsi G., Doha, May 30, 2011.

[109]Human Rights Watch interview with Ashok P., labor camp outside of al-Khor, June 24, 2011.

[110]Human Rights Watch interview with Arif J., Doha Industrial Area, June 16, 2011.

[111]Human Rights Watch interview with Masud K., labor camp near al-Khor, June 24, 2011.

[112]Ibid. A lakh is a unit of measurement commonly used in South Asia, and equals 100,000 of the relevant currency.

[113]Letter from the Qatar Ministry of Labor to Human Rights Watch, November 1, 2011, p. 4.

[114]ILO Convention No. 29 concerning Forced or Compulsory Labor, adopted June 28, 1930, entered into force May 1, 1932, art. 2.

[115]ILO, A Global Alliance Against Forced Labour: Global Report under the Follow-up to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights of Work (Geneva: ILO, 2005), p. 6.

[116]Human Rights Watch interview with Raju S., Doha Industrial Area, June 20, 2011.

[117]Human Rights Watch interview with Sherif A., Doha Seef Hotel, May 30, 2011.

[118]Law No.14 of 2004, art.33 states: [T]he person who is licensed to recruit workers from abroad for others shall be prohibited from doing the following: 1) to receive from the worker any sums representing recruitment fees or expenses or any other costs.

[119]Human Rights Watch interview with Himal K., Doha Industrial Area, May 27, 2011.

[120]Human Rights Watch interview with Sandesh P., Doha Industrial Area, May 27, 2011.

[121]Human Rights Watch interview with Bijay R., Doha Industrial Area, June 16, 2011.

[122]Human Rights Watch interview with N.L., Villagio Mall, May 26, 2011.

[123]Manual of Expatriate Employees in the State of Qatar, Ministry of Labor, p.11. On file with Human Rights Watch.

[124]Letter from Qatar Ministry of Labor to Human Rights Watch, November 1, 2011.

[125]Law No.14 of 2004, art.38.

[126]Ibid.

[127]Model Employment Contract, provided to Human Rights Watch by Ministry of Labor officials. On file with Human Rights Watch.

[128]Law No.14 of 2004, art.9.

[129]Human Rights Watch interview with Ashok P., al-Khor, Qatar, June 24, 2011.

[130]Human Rights Watch interview with Bhanu K., labor camp near al-Khor, June 17, 2011.

[131]Ibid.

[132]Ibid.

[133]Human Rights Watch interview with Raju S., Doha Industrial Area, June 20, 2011.

[134]Human Rights Watch interview with Sudeep G., labor camp near al-Khor, June 24, 2011.

[135]Human Rights Watch interview with Ashok P., labor camp near al-Khor, June 24, 2011.

[136]Law No.14 of 2004,

[137]Law No.14 of 2004, art.53.3.

[138]Law No.14 of 2004, art. 66, states that the wages of the workers employed on an annual or monthly basis shall be paid at least once in every month. The wages of all other workers shall be paid once at least every two weeks.

[139]Human Rights Watch interview with Sharif A., Doha Seif Hotel, May 30, 2011.

[140]Human Rights Watch interview with Rajan J., Doha Industrial Area, May 27, 2011.

[141]Human Rights Watch interview with Baburam G., Doha Industrial Area, May 26, 2011.

[142]GDP per capita for 2010, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) data. International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database, September 2011. Available at: http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2011/02/weodata/index.aspx (accessed September 14, 2011); “Hefty Raise for Government Staff,” The Peninsula, September 7, 2010, available at: http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/qatar/164254-hefty-raise-for-qatari-govt-staff.html (accessed October 26, 2011).

[143]“Annual consumer price inflation in Qatar rose to 2.2 percent in September because of a jump in food costs, reaching its highest level since at least the beginning of 2010, when the Statistics Authority began publishing year-on-year data.” Martina Fuchs, “Qatar September Inflation at fresh high of 2.2 percent,” Reuters, October 20, 20111, available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/20/qatar-cpi-idUSL5E7LK2Z920111020 (last accessed October 26, 2011).

[144]Qatar National Human Rights Committee, Study on the Conditions of Unskilled Labor Force in the Construction Sector in Qatar, “Executive Summary” (Doha: National Human Rights Committee, 2011), p.13. On file with Human Rights Watch.

[145] Article 66 of the Labor Law states: “The wages of the workers employed on an annual or monthly wages shall be paid at least once in every month. The wages of all other workers shall be paid once at least every two weeks.” Law No.14 of 2004, art.66.

[146]Letter from Qatar Ministry of Labor to Human Rights Watch, November 1, 2011, p.3.

[147]Human Rights Watch interview with Abdul H., Doha Industrial Area, May 25, 2011; Human Rights Watch group interview with seven Nepali workers in ASPIRE Zone, June 12, 2011; Human Rights Watch interview with Ajit T., labor camp near al-Khor, June 17, 2011; Human Rights Watch interview with Bhanu K., labor camp near al-Khor, June 17, 2011.

[148]Human Rights Watch interview with Abdul M., Doha Industrial Area, May 26, 2011.

[149]Human Rights Watch interview with Bhanu K., labor camp near al-Khor, June 17, 2011.

[150]Human Rights Watch interview with Abdul M., Doha Industrial Area, May 26, 2011.

[151]Human Rights Watch interview with Ajit M., Doha Industrial Area, May 26, 2011.

[152]Human Rights Watch interview with Rishi S., labor camp near al-Khor, June 17, 2011.

[153]Law No.14 of 2004, art.19.

[154]Human Rights Watch interview with E.M., Villagio Mall, May 26, 2011.

[155]Decree of the Minister for Civil Service and Residential Affairs No.18 of 2005, arts.2, 3.

[156]Ibid., art.3.

[157]Human Rights Watch interview with N.K., Villagio Mall, June 18, 2011.

[158]Human Rights Watch visit to labor camp, Doha Industrial Area, June 18, 2011; group interview with Bangladeshi workers.

[159]Human Rights Watch visit to labor camp, al-Khor, June 24, 2011; group interview with Sri Lankan workers.

[160]Human Rights Watch interview with Ajit M., Doha Industrial Area, May 26, 2011.

[161]Human Rights Watch interview with Manor R., labor camp near al-Khor, June 24, 2011.

[162]Qatar National Human Rights Committee, Study on the Conditions of Unskilled Labor Force in the Construction Sector in Qatar, “Executive Summary” (Doha: National Human Rights Committee, 2011), p.13. On file with Human Rights Watch.

[163]Law No.14 of 2004, arts. 99, 100, and 110.

[164]Law No.14 of 2004, arts. 48.4, 108. Article 48.4 states: “Qatar requires employers to maintain records showing all work injuries sustained by workers in their employ.” Article 108 states that “if the worker dies while on duty or because of the work or sustains a work injury, the employer or his representative shall immediately notify the police and the [Labor] Department of the incident,” while article 115 states that “the employer shall every six months provide the [Labor] Department with statistics of the work injuries and occupational diseases ….”

[165]Qatar National Health Strategy, “Preventive health care: occupational health,” available at: http://www.nhsq.info/strategy-goals-and-projects/preventive-healthcare/occupational-health (accessed October 6, 2011).

[166]Letter from the Qatar Ministry of Labor, November 1, 2011, p. 11.

[167]Habib Toumi, "Rise in Nepalese suicide cases in Qatar alarms officials," January 3, 2011, Gulf Times, available at: http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/qatar/rise-in-nepalese-suicide-cases-in-qatar-alarms-officials-1.740253 (accessed June 6, 2012).

[168]Human Rights Watch interview with Hari S., Doha Industrial Area, June 19, 2011.

[169]Human Rights Watch interview with Imran N., area in front of labor complaints department, Doha Industrial Area, June 21, 2011.

[170]Human Rights Watch interview with Omar J., labor camp near al-Khor, June 24, 2011.

[171]Ibid.

[172] Habib Toumi, “Qatar Sizzling as Temperatures Soar to 53 Degrees Celsius,” Gulf News, July 14, 2010, available at: http://www.habibtoumi.com/2010/07/14/qatar-sizzling-as-temperatures-soar-to-53-degrees-celsius/ (accessed October 11, 2011).

[173]Ministerial Decree No.16 of 2007, on file with Human Right Watch.

[174]Human Rights Watch interview with Jay T., labor camp near al-Khor, June 24, 2011; Human Rights Watch interview with Chandu R., labor camp near al-Khor, June 17, 2011.

[175]Habib Toumi, “Qatar may allow trade unions, scrap 'sponsorships' for foreign workers,” Gulf News, May 1, 2012, available at: http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/qatar/qatar-may-allow-trade-unions-scrap-sponsorships-for-foreign-workers-1.1016594 (accessed May 3, 2012).

[176]ILO Convention No. 29 concerning Forced or Compulsory Labour (Forced Labour Convention), adopted June 28, 1930, 39 U.N.T.S. 55, entered into force May 1, 1932., arts. 1 and 2. ILO Convention No. 105 concerning Abolition of Forced Labour (Abolition of Forced Labour Convention), adopted June 25, 1957, 320 U.N.T.S. 291, entered into force January 17, 1959, arts. 1 and 2.

[177]International Labor Conference, 1979 General Survey of the Reports relating to the Forced Labor Convention, 1930 (No. 29) and the Abolition of Forced Labor Convention, 1975, (No. 105), Report of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations, 65th Session, Geneva, 1979, Report III, para. 21.

[178]ILO, A Global Alliance Against Forced Labour: Global Report under the Follow-up to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work 2005, International Labour Conference, 93rd Session, 2005, p. 6, http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/@ed_norm/@declaration/documents/publication/wcms_081882.pdf (accessed October 6, 2011).

[179]International Labour Organization, Report of the Committee set up to examine the representation made by the Latin American Central of Workers (CLAT) under article 24 of the ILO Constitution alleging non-observance by Brazil of the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29) and the Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957 (No. 105), GB.264/16/7, 1995, paras. 9, 22, 25, 61.

[180]Law No.4 of 2009, art.s 19, 20, 23, 24.

[181]Law No.4 of 2009, art.22.

[182]Ibid., art.11.

[183]Ibid., art.18.

[184]ILO, A Global Alliance Against Forced Labour: Global Report under the Follow-up to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights of Work (Geneva: ILO, 2005), p. 6.

[185]2022 FIFA World Cup, Bid Evaluation Report: Qatar, FIFA.com, p.12, available at: http://www.fifa.com/mm/document/tournament/competition/01/33/74/56/b9qate.pdf (last accessed May 28, 2012).

[186] “About Us,” AspireLogistics.qa, available at: http://www.aspirelogistics.qa/AboutUs.aspx (last accessed May 28, 2012).

[187] “FAQs,” AspireLogistics.qa, available at: http://www.aspirelogistics.qa/FAQ.aspx (last accessed May 28, 2012).

[188]Human Rights Watch interview with seven Nepali workers, Aspire Zone, Qatar, June 18, 2011.

[189]Letter from Abdulaziz al Mahmoud, Director General, Aspire Logistics, May 29, 2012, p.1-2.

[190]Law No.4 of 2009, art.9 states that the sponsor shall deliver the passport or travel document to the sponsored person once the procedures for issuing or renewing the residence permit are accomplished; Human Rights Watch meeting with Nasser al-Mannai, Director of Recruitment Department, Mohamed al-Obeidly, Director of Legal Affairs Department, and Salih al-Shawi, Director of Labor Relations Department, Ministry of Labor, Doha, Qatar, June 22, 2011.

[191]Ibid.

[192]Letter from the Qatar Ministry of Labor to Human Rights Watch, November 1, 2011, p. 4.

[193]Human Rights Watch interview with Ashok P., al-Khor, June 24, 2011.

[194]Human Rights Watch interview with Bhawan T., Doha Industrial Area, May 26, 2011.

[195]Law No.4 of 2009, art.9 states any expatriate entering the state for residence shall first obtain the relevant visa from the competent authority. The sponsor shall accomplish the residence procedures and its renewal, provided that such renewal shall be done within 90 days from the expiry date of the visa.

[196]Human Rights Watch interview with Ashok P., labor camp near al-Khor, Qatar, June 24, 2011.

[197]Human Rights Watch interview with Hanif K., labor camp near al-Khor, Qatar, June 17, 2011.

[198]Human Rights Watch interview with Rishav P., labor camp near al-Khor, Qatar, June 24, 2011.

[199]Human Rights Watch interview with Chandan H., Doha Industrial Area, May 27, 2011.

[200]Human Rights Watch interview with Ajit T., Doha Industrial Area, May 26, 2011.

[201]Law No.4 of 2009, art.24.

[202]Human Rights Watch interview with Sharif A., May 29, 2011.

[203]Human Rights Watch interview with E.M, Villagio Mall, Doha, Qatar, May 26, 2011.

[204]Letter from Qatar Ministry of Labor to Human Rights Watch, November 1, 2011, p. 12-13.

[205]Ibid., p.12

[206]Habib Toumi, Gulf News, “Qatar keen on applying anti-absconding laws,” August 22, 2011, available at: http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/qatar/qatar-keen-on-applying-anti-absconding-laws-1.855480 (accessed August 27, 2011).

[207]Human Rights Watch interview with Hala al-Ali and representatives of the National Human Rights Committee, National Human Right Committee building, Doha, June 19, 2011.

[208]Human Rights Watch interview with Manoj R., al-Khor, June 24, 2011.

[209]Human Rights Watch interview with R.N., Ramada Hotel, Doha, June 15, 2011.

[210]Human Rights Watch interview with ambassador of labor-sending country, Doha, Qatar, June 22, 2011.

[211] Barbara Bibbo, “Exit Permits Must End, Says PM,” Gulf News, May 29, 2007, available at: http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/qatar/exit-permits-must-end-says-qatar-pm-1.180301 (accessed October 4, 2011).

[212]Human Rights Watch interview with Himal K.,

[213]Manual of Expatriate Employees in the State of Qatar, Ministry of Labor, on file with Human Rights Watch.

[214] Human Rights Watch meeting with Nasser al-Mannai, Director of Recruitment Department, Mohamed al-Obeidly, Director of Legal Affairs Department, and Salih al-Shawi, Director of Labor Relations Department, Ministry of Labor, Doha, Qatar, June 22, 2011

[215]Ibid.

[216]Study on the Conditions of Unskilled Labor Force in the Construction Sector in Qatar, p.17.

[217]Human Rights Watch interview with Labor Ministry representatives, June 22, 2011.

[218]Ibid.

[219]Human Rights Watch call to labor ministry hotline, June 16, 2011. When the employee said she did not speak English, Human Rights Watch repeated questions in Arabic.

[220]Human Rights Watch interview with R.N., Ramada Hotel, Doha, June 15, 2011.

[221]Human Rights Watch meeting with Nasser al-Mannai, Director of Recruitment Department, Mohamed al-Obeidly, Director of Legal Affairs Department, and Salih al-Shawi, Director of Labor Relations Department, Ministry of Labor, Doha, Qatar, June 22, 2011.

[222]Ibid.

[223]Letter from Qatar Ministry of Labor, November 1, 2011, p. 8.

[224] Law No.14 of 2004, art.102.

[225] Law No.14 of 2004, arts. 105, 109.

[226]The Peninsula Qatar, “Cover blown off health care fraud,” May 30, 2011, available at: http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/qatar/154143-cover-blown-off-healthcare-fraud-.html (accessed September 27, 2011.)

[227]Ibid.

[228]Ibid.

[229]Human Rights Watch meeting with Nasser al-Mannai, Director of Recruitment Department, Mohamed al-Obeidly, Director of Legal Affairs Department, and Salih al-Shawi, Director of Labor Relations Department, Ministry of Labor, Doha, Qatar, June 22, 2011.

[230]US State Department, Report on Human Rights 2010: Qatar, available at: http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2010/nea/154471.htm (accessed October 7, 2010).

[231]Human Rights Watch interview with Omar J., labor camp near al-Khor, Qatar, June 24,

[232]Ibid.

[233]Ibid.

[234]Human Rights Watch interview with R.N., Ramada Hotel, Doha, June 16, 2011.

[235]Ibid.

[236]Human Rights Watch interview with Masud Y., in front of the Labor Complaints Department, Doha Industrial Area, June 21, 2011.

[237]Ibid.

[238]Human Rights Watch interview with two construction workers, in front of the Labor Complaints Department, Doha Industrial Area, June 21, 2011.

[239]Human Rights Watch interview with Masud Y., in front of the Labor Complaints Department, Doha Industrial Area, June 21, 2011.

[240]Human Rights Watch interview with R.N., Ramada Hotel, Doha, June 16, 2011.

[241]Law No.4 of 2009, art.12.

[242]Human Rights Watch interview with Hala al-Ali and other representatives of the National Human Rights Committee, National Human Right Committee building, Doha, June 19, 2011.

[243]Ibid.

[244]Ibid.

[245]Study on the Conditions of Unskilled Labor Force in the Construction Sector in Qatar, p.8.

[246]Letter from Qatar Ministry of Labor to Human Rights Watch, November 1, 2011.

[247]Law No.14 of 2004, art.67.

[248]Human Rights Watch interview with E.M., Villagio Mall, Doha, May 26, 2011.

[249]Law No. 14 of 2004, art. 10 states that All lawsuits filed by workers or their heirs claiming the entitlements accruing under the provisions of this law or the service contract shall be dealt with urgency and shall be exempted from judicial fees. Labor Law, No. 14 of the Year 2004, State of Qatar, Ministry of Labor, Labor Department, official translation (2010).

[250]Human Rights Watch meeting with Nasser al-Mannai, Director of Recruitment Department, Mohamed al-Obeidly, Director of Legal Affairs Department, and Salih al-Shawi, Director of Labor Relations Department, Ministry of Labor, Doha, Qatar, June 22, 2011.

[251]Human Rights Watch interview with ambassador of labor-sending country, Doha, May 27, 2011; Human Rights Watch interview with ambassador of labor-sending country, Doha, June 22, 2011.

[252]Human Rights Watch interview with ambassador of labor-sending country, Doha, Qatar, June 22, 2011.

[253]Qatar National Human Rights Committee, Study on the Conditions of Unskilled Labor Force in the Construction Sector in Qatar, (Doha: Qatar National Human Rights Committee, 2011), on file with Human Rights Watch, p.8.

[254]Human Rights Watch interview with ambassador of labor-sending country, Doha, May 27, 2011.

[255]Human Rights Watch interview with ambassador of labor-sending country, Doha, May 27, 2011.

[256]Ibid, p.12.