FIFA: Pay for the damage done to migrant workers in Qatar

(London, 19 May 2022) – Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in Qatar have not received financial compensation or adequate redress for the large-scale exploitation they have suffered during construction and infrastructure services destined for the FIFA World Cup, which starts in November 2022, Human Rights Watch said today.

On 19 May, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, FairSquare and an international coalition of migrant rights associations, trade unions, football fans, abuse survivors, and business and rights groups stated that the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) ) and the government of Qatar must remedy the serious damage suffered by workers since the organization of the World Cup in 2010. here, thousands of unexplained deaths and injuries, theft of wages and exorbitant recruitment fees. Human Rights Watch launched an international campaign, #PayUpFIFA, to support the coalition’s appeal. Amnesty International releases “Predictable and preventable” report (“Predictable and Avoidable”), indicating how FIFA and Qatar can remedy 12 years of violations.

FIFA and Qatar have failed in their obligations to migrant workers who were essential for the 2022 World Cup, but they can still compensate those who suffered serious harm and the families of the large number of people who suffered. said Minky Worden, director of Global Initiatives at Human Rights Watch. ” FIFA must immediately set aside the necessary funds to provide proportionate damages and avoid the humiliating legacy of the “World Cup of Shame”. »

Over the past ten years, human rights groups have repeatedly documented the widespread exploitation faced by workers as a result of kafala (sponsorship) of Qatar, which results in forced labour. This is happening despite reforms to the labor code that Qatari authorities have enacted in recent years in response to a forced labor complaint filed with the International Labor Organization. Also in March, Human Rights Watch documented the theft of salaries for up to five months from a major Qatari trade and construction company for FIFA-related projects.

When workers recruited into stadium construction projects, who face closer global scrutiny and higher standards than others, do not have sufficient protection, it is no surprise that workers outside stadium-related projects suffer more violations. In addition, Qatar’s poor human rights record raises serious concerns in other areas, including severe restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, official policies that promote discrimination and violence against women, as well as a repressive environment against LGBT residents and visitors. .

When FIFA, the governing body of world football, awarded Qatar the host of the 2022 tournament, it knew, or should have known, that migrant workers employed in massive infrastructure construction would face serious risks to their rights. However, FIFA has not enforced labor rights conditions or exercised human rights due diligence, Human Rights Watch said.

For Nepalese Manju Devi, 38, whose 40-year-old migrant worker husband, Kripal Mandal, died in Qatar in 2022, the only “legacy” of the upcoming World Cup is the outstanding loans taken out by her spouse to get the job. that caused her death. Like most workers in Qatar, Mandal borrowed money at exorbitant rates to pay recruitment fees, a debt that continues to grow. Although Qatar prohibits the charging of recruitment fees and associated costs to migrant workers, the government rarely enforces this regulation.

Mandal’s family said he worked on building a supply company that assigned him to the airport and stadiums. His wife still doesn’t understand his death from a heart attack. “I can’t say what the cause of this death is,” Devi told Human Rights Watch. “Whether it’s the stated cause or something else, we don’t know… At night he was talking decently and laughing,… but he died around 3am the next day. »

The family did not receive any compensation for his death and his employer did not even pay the 15 days’ salary due under the contract. Devi, a mother of five, told us: “When she was alive, we were sure there was a livelihood. Now, since her death, we have lost our livelihood. The situation is very difficult. »

Qatar’s workers’ rights reform adopted too late in the run-up to the World Cup is grossly insufficient and poorly implemented said Minky Worden. ” Dozens of migrant workers died due to the lack of a human rights framework in Qatar that would protect workers and allow them to report unsafe working conditions, non-payment of wages and forced labour. The death of workers is not necessary for the holding of the World Cup or any global sporting event. »

FIFA adopted the UN Core Principles for Business and Human Rights in 2016 and enshrined its responsibility to respect human rights in the FIFA Statutes. It also established an Independent Human Rights Advisory Council, employed human rights officials, and established a grievance mechanism for human rights defenders. In 2017, FIFA adopted a human rights policy stating that human rights commitments are mandatory for all FIFA bodies and employees.

Despite this positive development, FIFA has yet to provide reparations to migrant workers who have suffered serious violations or to their families. It therefore serves workers directly employed in World Cup projects and those who built and provided services to a wider range of projects related to the preparation and holding of tournaments, including transportation, accommodation, security and cleaning, among others.

FIFA is expected to work with the Qatari authorities in the six months leading up to the 2022 World Cup to establish a comprehensive compensation program for violations suffered by migrant workers. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Fair Square and other coalition members said FIFA must set aside at least US$440 million, equivalent to the prize money awarded to the 2022 World Cup teams, to invest in funds to compensate. workers and improve their protection.

The compensation program must be governed in a participatory manner after consultation with stakeholders, including migrant workers, surviving family members and trade unions. It must be easily accessible to workers and their families, many of whom are no longer in Qatar. It should also provide a quick fix for a wide range of breaches that have been overlooked since 2010.

Players, football fans, FIFA sponsors, national football associations and others can play an important role in ensuring a positive contribution from this World Cup, asking for support for compensation to remedy the harm suffered by migrant workers, Human Rights Watch said. .

The death of migrant workers in Qatar has had extremely negative emotional and financial consequences for their families. said Minky Worden. ” FIFA, in accordance with its human rights commitments, and Qatar, in accordance with its obligations, must financially compensate migrant workers who were harmed in the construction of the World Cup to provide financial assistance to their families in difficulty. »

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