U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Qatar
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||14 June 2004|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Qatar, 14 June 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d81cc.html [accessed 28 January 2015]|
Qatar (Tier 2 Watch List)
Qatar is a destination country for children who are trafficked from the Sudan, Somalia, and, to a lesser extent, South Asia to serve primarily as camel jockeys. Some women from Asia, Africa, and the former Soviet Union who come to work in Qatar may be placed in situations of coerced labor where they endure physical abuse or other extreme working conditions. Some of these women are trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation. Child victims endure difficult working and living conditions, characterized by physical violence and inadequate food and medical care. Camel jockeys' rights are not protected under Qatari labor laws, as their service is deemed a sports activity rather than a form of labor.
The Government of Qatar does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Qatar is placed on Tier 2 Watch List this year because of the lack of evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons. Qatari labor laws do not protect domestic workers from abuse and exploitation. Qatari criminal laws prohibit trafficking for sexual exploitation, but few cases have been prosecuted during the reporting period. In the few instances where cases related to trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation were brought before the courts, almost all the defendants were foreigners and the punishments rendered were light. In 2003, the government adopted a national action plan embodying broad anti-trafficking recommendations; if implemented effectively, the plan is likely to significantly improve Qatar's anti-trafficking enforcement, protection and prevention records. Qatar also needs to encourage and foster the engagement of civil society (NGOs) in trafficking prevention and victim protection activities.
During the reporting period, the Government of Qatar took steps to investigate and prosecute traffickers. It has adopted a national action plan, which, if implemented, is expected to enhance its prosecution efforts. The plan, among other things, calls for criminal charges if children are used as camel jockeys; increased training for judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement professionals; and blacklisting and banning companies involved in trafficking from sponsoring and bringing workers into the country. In 2003, two travel agencies were closed for activities related to prostitution. In a similar case, the owner of a hotel was jailed and the manager deported. Nine cases of pimping and prostitution were prosecuted in 2003. Some of these cases may have involved trafficking for sexual exploitation. In one case of prostitution, three men received jail terms of 4-6 months, 60 lashes, and deportation; in another five people were sentenced to jail terms, 60 lashes, and deportation. As for labor cases, 579 workers filed complaints in the Labor Courts, of which 179 have been adjudicated, 190 dismissed, and 211 remain pending. Some of these cases may have involved trafficking. In addition, the Sharia Courts heard cases for non-payment of wages and ordered the defendants to pay back wages they owed. There are no reports indicating Qatar cooperates with other governments in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers of camel jockeys. Qatar needs to improve its record in this area.
During the reporting period, Qatar made minimal efforts to protect trafficking victims. The Qatari Government does not provide victims with assistance or shelter. It lacks a witness protection program, and deports victims trafficked for sexual exploitation. In 2003, it held training sessions for government officials covering human rights issues, including trafficking. The government has adopted a series of recommendations – expected to take effect in 2004 – that would significantly increase its ability to protect victims. Recommended protection measures include the launching of a 24-hour hotline, the establishment of a Human Rights Department in the Ministry of Interior, the provision of shelters, and the training of police personnel and social workers.
The Government of Qatar did not provide information on specific preventive measures it took over the reporting period. Nonetheless, it has adopted a series of recommendations, which, if implemented, are expected to enhance its overall prevention efforts. The recommended measures include: printing booklets in Arabic, English, Urdu, and Tagalog to inform immigrant workers of their rights and available assistance when they face problems; raising the minimum age for camel jockeys to 18 and imposing minimum body weights for jockeys to that which is appropriate for adults; conducting DNA tests to verify claimed familial ties between jockeys and guardians; performing retinal identification to prevent ID falsification; and taking X-rays to establish the age of camel jockeys. The recommendations also call for increased cooperation with source countries in the repatriation of victims.