Amnesty International’s report warned that migrant workers in the Gulf nation are exposed to dangerous working conditions, poor accommodation and the non-payment of wages.
“It is inexcusable in one of the richest countries in the world that so many migrant workers are being exploited, deprived of their pay and left struggling to survive,” Amnesty secretary general Salil Shetty said in a statement.
Amnesty’s study comes a week after FIFA president Sepp Blatter visited the emir of Qatar to share FIFA’s concern about working conditions after newspaper investigations highlighted alleged human rights abuses and deaths in the extreme heat.
There have been long-standing concerns about the lack of safeguards for the mainly South Asian migrant labourers in Qatar and across the Gulf, including low-grade housing and employers withholding the workers’ passports.
“Our findings indicate an alarming level of exploitation in the construction sector in Qatar,” Shetty said. “FIFA has a duty to send a public message that it will not tolerate human rights abuses on projects related to the World Cup.”
FIFA wrote to Amnesty to express hopes that by taking the World Cup to the Middle East for the first time it can be the catalyst for social change, including an “improvement of labor rights and conditions for migrant workers.”
Up to $ 220 billion is expected to be spent to expand the infrastructure in Qatar before it stages the World Cup, Amnesty said, although specific World Cup projects may only account for $ 4 billion of that. Amnesty said its researchers saw 11 men having to sign papers in front of officials falsely saying they had received their wages so their passports would be returned.
Based on a series of interviews, the organisation also described some workers’ living conditions as “squalid,” with overcrowding and no air conditioning. The report also alleges some companies are flouting regulations banning work in open areas in the middle of the day in summer.