By Neil Halligan
Qatar National Human Rights Committee says Gulf state is looking to draft new legislation to improve situation
Qatar National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) has said the country has been looking into drafting new legislations to further improve current conditions.
The move comes after an announcement made by a number of state officials last month regarding replacing the sponsorship system with employment contracts.
As part of the changes, the government also planned to increase penalties for employers who confiscate the passports of migrant workers to QR50,000 ($13,700) from QR10,000, and stiffen penalties for failures to pay wages on time or provide adequate information.
The reforms would also end the longstanding requirement that foreign workers obtain their employer's consent before leaving the country.
Under the new rules, employers will no longer be financially responsible for their employees.
Speaking at the Qatar Human Rights Council (HRC) 26th regular session, the committee’s chairman Dr Ali bin Sumaikh Al Marri, said the developments reflected the government's intent to improve workers' conditions in the country, in accordance with the recommendations of Qatar National Human Rights Committee.
The committee discussed the report on labour conditions in the country presented by the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Francois Crepeau, following his last visit to the State of Qatar in 2013.
Al Marri said the recommendations made by Crepeau in the report will be taken into consideration in the ongoing cooperation between the committee and the government, represented by ministries of labour and interior, and UN Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region, in order to raise capacities and implement the recommendations.
For his part, Crepeau praised big Qatari corporations for the high standards of living they provide to their workers.
He noted that the situation in Qatar is unique in view of the high ratio of expatriates to citizens.
Al Marri and Crepeau are set to meet on the sidelines of the session to discuss enhancing cooperation between the two parties.