Kathmandu, March 31
Amnesty International has painted a bleak picture of Nepali migrant workers deployed in constructing football stadium for 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
In its fresh report titled “The Ugly Side of Beautiful Game: Exploitation of Migrant Workers on a Qatar 2022 World Cup Site,” the London-based human rights organisation exposed migrants workers from South Asia, including Nepal were “systematically abuses” and “forced labour’.
In its 80-page in-depth report, AI stated contractors involved in the World Cup refurbishment of Khalifa International Stadium violated basic human rights of over 100 foreign labourers, many Nepalis by seizing their passports, delaying salary payments and using threats to force them to work.
It can be recalled that Nepal’s then Ambassador to Qatar Maya Kumari Sharma, during a BBC interview, had termed “Qatar as an open jail” for foreign workers, for which she lost her job in September 2013.
The report was prepared by interviewing 234 migrant workers from countries such as Bangladesh, India and Nepal, between February and May last year. At least 132 of them were interviewed alone on the construction site of Khalifa International Stadium, a venue that is expected to be completed in six years.
Amnesty also harshly criticised the global football governing body FIFA’s indifference towards the appalling treatment of foreign workers in the Gulf state and called major-football sponsoring companies like Adidas and Coca-Cola to expert their influence on FIFA to pressurise Qatari authorities towards stopping such inhuman treatment of migrant workers.
“Despite five years of promises, FIFA has failed almost completely to stop the World Cup being built on human rights abuses,” AI Secretary General Salil Shetty said in a statement.
AI documented eight counts of human rights abuses of labour, including expensive recruitment fees, appalling living conditions, delay in salary payment, lies about salaries, not allowing to leave worksite or camp, and country, change job and use of threat to keep them working for extended hours without due payment.
A foreign ministry official told The Himalayan Times that the government’s attention had been seriously drawn on the report and it would take up issues of inhuman treatment of Nepali workers with the Government of Qatar.
A metal worker on Khalifa Stadium from Nepal said his salary was often delayed. “Sometimes, salaries aren’t paid for several months. This can be disastrous – workers are unable to buy food, send money to their family back home or make payments on recruitment-related loans. Many are pushed to the brink of desperation,” the worker, whose first name is Prem, was quoted as telling in the report.
“My family is now homeless and two of my younger children have been taken out of school… Every day I am tense, I cannot sleep at night. This is a torture for me,” Prem added.
Amnesty also spoke to more than a half-dozen Nepali men who said they were denied permission to return home to check on their family members following massive earthquake in Nepal last year.