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Qatar 2023

Authorities continued to restrict the right to freedom of expression and silence critical voices. Migrant workers continued to face a range of abuses, including wage theft, forced labour and exploitation, and had inadequate access to grievance and redress mechanisms. Women continued to face discrimination in law and practice. Discriminatory laws put LGBTI people at risk of detention.

Freedom of expression

The authorities continued to curtail the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, including by arbitrarily detaining individuals for exercising their human rights.

In 2023, activists received reliable reports confirming that in mid-2022 the Criminal Court of Appeal in the capital, Doha upheld the convictions against brothers Hazza and Rashed al-Marri, both of them lawyers, for offences that included contesting laws ratified by the emir, “threatening” the emir on social media, compromising the independence of the state, organizing unauthorized public meetings, and “violating” social values online. They had been sentenced to life imprisonment. The charges related to speeches they made or poetry published online critical of the country’s electoral law that discriminates against members of al-Marri tribe.

Two activists imprisoned for online posts were released after serving their sentences. One of them, Abdullah al-Mohannadi, was released in August after completing an eight-month sentence imposed for posts and activism relating to the National Campaign for Travel-Banned Citizens. However, he remained subject to a travel ban.

Migrants’ rights

Migrant workers continued to face serious abuses, including wage theft, restrictions on changing jobs and inadequate grievance and redress mechanisms.

In early January, hundreds of marshals and security guards contracted to Qatar-based Teyseer Security Services, who had worked excessive hours without rest days on FIFA World Cup 2022 sites, staged protests days before their contracts expired to demand they be paid their dues in full.1 They told Amnesty International that representatives of Teyseer and the government promised they would be compensated, a pledge that was not honoured.

Qatar’s monthly minimum wage continued to be too low for workers to have an adequate standard of living or free themselves from debt bondage caused by paying illegal recruitment fees, according to the ILO.

The authorities appeared to implement Qatar’s heat stress legislation for outdoor workers in the construction sector, but not in the security sector.

Migrant workers continued to face bureaucratic hurdles when seeking to change jobs without the permission of their employers, even though such permission was no longer a legal requirement.

Live-in domestic workers, most of whom are women, continued to face particularly harsh working conditions and abuses as a result of the government’s ongoing failure to implement measures introduced in 2017 to protect them.

Migrant workers remained banned from joining and forming trade unions, a right afforded to Qatari nationals.

Right to truth, justice and reparation

Migrant workers continued to face barriers in accessing justice and receiving remedy for a range of abuses, including historic ones. The problems included: delays in the legal process for up to a year; language barriers; non-payment of dues when cases were won; the exclusion of some abuses such as the payment of illegal recruitment fees; and the inability of workers to access justice remotely once they leave the country.

The authorities did not disclose the 2023 figure for the state-run compensation fund for workers, but told Amnesty International that the fund had “increased its payments” without providing any information to support the claim. The fund caps compensation at USD 5,500 per worker, preventing some workers from receiving their full wages.2

The authorities continued to fail to investigate effectively the deaths of migrant workers and to hold employers or authorities accountable, precluding any assessment of whether the deaths were work-related and depriving families of the opportunity to receive compensation. Qatar and FIFA, football’s world governing body, failed to ensure long-overdue remedy, including compensation for the vast numbers of workers whose rights were abused for a decade while working on projects related to football’s 2022 World Cup.

Women’s rights

Women continued to face discrimination in law and practice. Under the guardianship system, women need the permission of a male guardian – usually their husband, father, brother, grandfather or uncle – to marry, study abroad on government scholarships, work in many government jobs, travel abroad if aged under 25, and access reproductive healthcare.

While family law provides that the husband should “refrain from hurting [his wife] physically or morally”, women remained inadequately protected in law against domestic violence.

LGBTI people’s rights

Qatari laws discriminate against LGBTI people, and authorities continued to detain individuals solely for their sexual orientation or gender expression.

The penal code criminalizes a range of same-sex consensual sexual acts between adults. Article 296(3) punishes with imprisonment anyone who “leads or induces or tempts a male, by any means, into committing an act of sodomy or debauchery.” Article 296(4) punishes with imprisonment anyone who “induces or tempts a male or female, by any means, into committing acts contrary to morals or that are unlawful.”

In an interview broadcast in September, the prime minister stated that, “This [referring to a question on LGBTI rights] is something not acceptable in our faith… as long as they are respecting the law in public areas, no one’s safety is in question.”

Right to a healthy environment

Qatar continued to be one of the world’s top five CO2 emitters per capita. It also expanded its production of liquefied natural gas, and in June, signed a 27-year supply agreement with China and European oil companies.

  1. “Qatar: Hundreds of migrant workers employed as security guards at FIFA World Cup denied justice for abuses”, 15 June
  2. A Legacy in Jeopardy: Continuing Abuses of Migrant Workers in Qatar One Year After the World Cup, 16 November