The Government has been urged to take steps to protect Sri Lankan migrant workers in Qatar.
Local civil society groups and individuals noted that there are incidents where Sri Lankan migrant workers are trapped incommunicado and have lost all communications with their family members back home.
“Notably in 2015 Qatar became the number one destination country for Sri Lankan migrant workers where nearly 84,622 Sri Lankans have been deployed under different employment categories. Amongst them nearly 23,000 workers are classified as unskilled mainly from districts of Ampara, Batticaloa, Galle, Kandy and Kurunagale,” a joint statement said.
Subsequent to Qatar being awarded to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the Government is in the process of building nearly 12 state of the art sophisticated stadiums where almost 2 million migrant workers have been recruited for this purpose of construction mainly from South Asia, South East Asia and Africa regions to complete the task.
“Ever since Qatar won the bid to host the World Cup, it has been under the international scrutiny for continuous violation of the rights of these labour migrant workers involved in infrastructure projects. Despite calls from various international human rights organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Federation for Human Rights, International Trade Union Federation and its affiliates and other global migrant networks advocating and lobbying to improve working and living conditions of such migrant workers, the Government of Qatar deliberately ignores such calls and guidelines proposed by the ILO and its constituents in order to work towards labour reforms and guarantee the rights of migrant workers,” the joint statement said.
The statement says it is important to note that the labour migrants work under harsh and deplorable conditions and face severe human rights violations. However, the Government of Qatar continues to deny any such claims despite documentary evidence.
“For instance, according to complaints received from the Eastern part of Sri Lanka 60 cases were reported from Qatar and have been referred to the Sri Lana Bureau of Foreign Employment. Recently human remains of a male migrant worker was repatriated from Qatar where the medical report of the destination country claims that the victim had committed suicide. However, the family of the victim suspects foul play. Time and again recruiting agents promise office jobs but the workers are employed in construction sites as labourers. In case of them wanting to leave due to the work offered, they are compelled to bear the repatriation cost on their own,” the statement added.
The statement says unless the Government of Qatar takes initiatives to develop labour laws to international compliance, Sri Lankan migrant workers will continue to be victimized under inhuman working conditions and laws. (Colombo Gazette)