Qatar Says Europe Resolution on Migrant Workers Premature

Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said a European Parliament debate today on the rights of migrant workers in the emirate is “premature” following allegations of abuse at World Cup construction sites.

European lawmakers are scheduled to vote on a resolution today, according to the European Parliament website. Qatar said it hired the law firm DLA Piper last month to investigate alleged mistreatment of workers as it prepares to host the 2022 World Cup of soccer. The Guardian newspaper has reported that 44 Nepalese workers died between June 4 and Aug. 8 amid “appalling labor abuses.”

“Qatar recognizes the interest of the European Parliament in these matters and is happy to engage in dialogue,” a foreign ministry official, who wasn’t identified, said in an e-mailed statement. “While DLA Piper’s investigation is on-going, the resolution itself is premature.”

The human rights group Amnesty International released a report Nov. 18 saying Qatar needs to better enforce labor regulations amid “widespread and routine abuse” of migrant workers.

“Qatar takes the allegations that have been made concerning the construction sector extremely seriously and has therefore already put an independent review into those allegations in place, to be conducted as a matter of the utmost urgency,” the foreign ministry said.

In its report, Amnesty said some workers in Qatar weren’t paid wages, were subject to “harsh and dangerous” working conditions and “shocking standards of accommodation.” The group documented the cases of dozens of workers who were prevented from leaving for “many months” by their employers.

“Qatar will deal severely with any abuses on the part of companies operating in its construction sector, particularly relating to its migrant labor force,” the foreign ministry said.