Responding to the news that Qatar’s Minister of Labour has called Amnesty International’s campaign to compensate migrant workers for the abuses they suffered “a publicity stunt”, Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s Head of Economic and Social Justice, said:
“It is hugely disappointing to hear calls for greater compensation be dismissed. The vast majority of migrant workers who have now returned home to countries like Nepal or Bangladesh are unable to access Qatar’s current scheme. There will be no compensation for them to reclaim stolen wages or illegal recruitment fees, let alone provide much needed financial support for those families who have lost a loved one.
“While the money paid out this year is undoubtedly important, Qatar’s Minister saying that their door is open to workers who have suffered abuses is insufficient and a much more proactive approach is needed to ensure that justice is within reach for everyone. Qatar must expand its existing compensation funds or establish a new one – no one is saying it is easy, but if the will is there, a solution could be found that would transform the lives of so many workers.”
On 2 November, in an interview with AFP, Qatar’s Ministry of Labour Ali bin Samikh al-Marri called Amnesty International’s campaign to compensate migrant workers for the abuses they suffered “a publicity stunt”. He added that the Ministry’s “door is open”, saying that “if there is a person entitled to compensation who has not received it, they should come forward and we will help them”.
In May 2022 – Amnesty and a coalition of organisations launched a campaign calling on Qatar and FIFA to establish a comprehensive remediation programme to compensate migrant workers who suffered abuses in the preparation and delivery of Qatar 2022. Since then, the call has garnered the support of many FAs and World Cup sponsors and FIFA’s senior leadership have acknowledged the importance of compensation, though the footballing body is yet to publicly commit to doing so.
Since 2018, Qatari authorities have put in place measures to protect workers from wage theft and enhance access to justice, but these do not cover all workers or address abuses in the years before the systems were established. Crucially, significant implementation and enforcement gaps remain. For example, workers who have already left Qatar cannot access the labour committees or a fund established to pay them when their employers fail to do so.