Human rights body rubbishes abuse claims

October 01, 2013 - 1:59:35 am

Chairman of the Qatar National Human Rights Committee Ali bin Samikh Al Marri (centre) at a news conference in Doha yesterday.

DOHA: The Chairman of Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) yesterday denied claims by London’s Guardian newspaper that Qatar was treating Nepalese construction workers like ‘slaves’.

Ali bin Samikh Al Marri said the allegations, made last week, were totally erroneous.

“There is no slavery or forced labour in Qatar,” he said at a press conference.

“The information that The Guardian reported is false and the numbers cited by them are exaggerated.”

The Guardian report last Thursday said dozens of Nepalese workers have died while working in Qatar in recent weeks, raising concerns about the Gulf state’s preparations to host the World Cup soccer in 2022.

Quoting documents obtained by the Nepalese embassy in Doha, the Guardian said thousands of Nepalese -- at 370,000 the second largest group of labourers in Qatar after the Indians -- faced exploitation and abuses amounting to “modern-day slavery”.

Marri admitted there had been some problems but added he and the government were doing their utmost to put these right.

“There have been some problems, owing to the fact that there are 44,000 businesses in the country,” he said.

“But I can assure you that the authorities are constantly making efforts to resolve the problems.”

Narinra Bad, the coordinator of the Nepalese community in the Middle East, was also present at yesterday’s press conference and he too disputed the figures the Guardian gave.

“A total of 151 Nepalese citizens have died in Qatar this year including 15 at their workplace,” he said, adding the rest had died either in car accidents or of natural causes. “In 2012, Nepalese deaths in Qatar numbered 276, including 55, that is 20 percent, at their workplace,” AFP quoted Bad as saying.

Meanwhile, the NHRC has decided to set up an office exclusively for the Nepalese community to receive complaints from its members for redress, said chairman Ali bin Samikh Al Marri. 

“No slavery and no forced labour in implementing FIFA 2022 projects,” he said adding that the NHRC had forwarded the death figures as reported by Guardian and the BBC to the Qatari government for verification.

The Peninsula