Human rights organization Amnesty International on Thursday called on Qatar, which is hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2022, to investigate the deaths of migrant workers, citing a series of unexplained deaths. The gas emirate is regularly condemned by international NGOs for the treatment given to the hundreds of thousands of workers, particularly from Asia, on the major construction sites of one of the most important sporting events in the world.
“The Qatari authorities have failed to investigate the deaths of thousands of migrant workers over the past decade, despite evidence linking the premature deaths to unsafe working conditions,” Amnesty said in a statement, on the eve of a report launch.
Doha refuses to disclose exact number of deaths
The report “documents how Qatar routinely issues death certificates of migrant workers without conducting adequate investigations, attributing the deaths to“ natural causes ”or to cases of heart failure. “In 70% of the cases of death, the causes are not determined, says Amnesty, which bases itself on the analysis of registers in the countries of origin of the deceased migrants.
In February, Qatar fiercely denied information from the British daily The Guardian that more than 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar since the 2010 World Cup was awarded. Doha, however, refuses to make the exact death toll public.
Amnesty says it has analyzed 18 death certificates issued between 2017 and 2021, 15 of which included vague terms, such as “unspecified heart failure” and “acute respiratory failure due to natural causes”. “These sentences do not make sense without an explanation of the causes of death,” David Bailey, member of the World Health Organization (WHO) working group on medical causes of death, told Amnesty.
Reforms that are slow to come into force
Doha, which is working hard to ensure that its stadiums and other infrastructure are ready in time for the 2022 World Cup, claims to have done a lot to improve the working conditions of migrants. Qatar has also announced several reforms related to labor regulations since the award of the World Cup, but their implementation is long overdue, according to critics.
“We do not agree with the position taken by Amnesty against Qatar. The positive impact of employment reforms in Qatar is clear to all, ”a government spokesperson said in a statement. And to note “among the major reforms” the establishment of a new minimum wage, the end of exit permits, better housing or even the improvement of safety rules.