Amnesty listens to all stakeholders: Researcher

May 02, 2014 - 5:19:41 am

DOHA: Amnesty International’s lead researcher James Lynch (pictured) yesterday asserted that the international human rights watchdog will listen to all concerned parties before preparing its reports.

Speaking to The Peninsula, Lynch, the lead researcher and author of Amnesty’s November 2013 report on human rights issues and Qatar’s construction sector, dismissed observations that Amnesty International’s reports are often pro-labour and biased against companies and governments. 

“We cannot publish reports without talking to all sides. It is very clear when you read our report. The case studies that feature in our reports are totally based on the interviews with all stakeholders, including governments, companies and labourers. We will give opportunities to all parties to express their views,” Lynch said.

On the procedure of inspections conducted at worksites and  labour accommodations, Lynch said that in most cases it was done with the support of   the ministries concerned. 

Lynch said Amnesty International had no mandate for conducting formal inspections at companies, worksites and labour accommodations.

“We are not inspectors. What we will be looking at is how humanely the workers are being treated”, he said.

He said the question of surprise visits or inspections did not arise. 

“Most of our investigations are carried out through meetings with companies. We meet workers both at the worksites and their accommodation.”

Problems related to the so called “free visa” were  directly linked to the ‘kafala’ system, he said, adding that the ‘free visa’ workers were always in a vulnerable position, knowing that they did not have any legal protection.

Asked whether companies raised any objection to Amnesty International visiting worksites, he said: “It depends. Some companies have voluntarily invited us to visit their worksites and workers’ accommodations. Some companies are not that happy with our visits. The problem with these companies is that they are not respecting or complying with international standards. We want to see it changed with the support of the government. Contractors, too, have to play their role”.

Lynch was Amnesty International’s Press Officer on the Middle East and North Africa region between 2011 and 2012.