U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Qatar
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||5 June 2006|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Qatar, 5 June 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d8aa1c.html [accessed 14 February 2016]|
Qatar (Tier 2 Watch List)
Qatar is a destination country for men and women from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, the Philippines, and Indonesia who migrate willingly, but are subsequently trafficked into involuntary servitude as domestic workers and laborers. The problem of trafficking of foreign children for camel jockey servitude in Qatar – which has been highlighted in previous Reports – was thoroughly addressed by Government of Qatar action over the last year, though independent confirmation of the problem's complete elimination is not yet available.
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 has made noticeable progress in rescuing and repatriating child camel jockeys, establishing a shelter for abused domestic workers, and creating hotlines to register complaints. Nonetheless, Qatar is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to provide sufficient evidence of increasing efforts to combat trafficking in persons over the last year, particularly with regard to labor exploitation. The government did not prosecute any person on trafficking charges despite reports of widespread exploitation of foreign domestic workers. Qatar also lacks a screening mechanism to distinguish trafficking victims from illegal immigrants housed in detention centers and should increase referrals to the victim shelter. The Government of Qatar should expand on the progress it made in the summer of 2005 by more widely advertising the existence of its shelter for abused foreign domestic workers and allowing access to that shelter without a referral from the police or certain government agencies.
The Government of Qatar made little progress in increasing prosecutions of trafficking offenses during the reporting period. In July 2005, Qatar banned the use of camel jockeys under the age of 18 and established a committee to monitor compliance with this law. Although it does not have a specific anti-trafficking law, other criminal laws could be applied to combat trafficking, including laws against forced labor. Despite several hundred reports of abuse against expatriate workers, there is no evidence that Qatar has used its laws banning forced labor to prosecute employers or labor recruitment agencies for trafficking. The Government of Qatar should increase investigations and prosecutions of trafficking offenses and should consider enacting a comprehensive anti-trafficking law.
The Government of Qatar made uneven improvements in its efforts to protect victims of trafficking. Qatar's population of expatriate domestic workers remains unprotected by the country's labor law. The government also lacks a comprehensive system of identifying trafficking victims among the significant number of illegal immigrants kept in detention centers. As a result, trafficking victims are often deported without receiving adequate protective services or compensation for abuse. In addition, sponsorship regulations requiring the sponsor's permission for any travel by the employee can significantly delay the employees' return home. Many expatriate workers awaiting repatriation languish in the detention center for months because they have not received permission to travel from their sponsors. Foreign workers with legal claims against their employers may not leave detention pending resolution of their cases.
Throughout the summer, the government repatriated 200 Sudanese child camel jockeys and plans to facilitate their reintegration through a local quasi-governmental organization. In July 2005, Qatar also founded a shelter that can accommodate 42 victims of domestic servitude and established three multilingual hotlines to register complaints of expatriate workers. Although the shelter is now operational, it is rarely accessed because it requires formal referrals before a victim is admitted. There is also a low level of awareness of the shelter and hotlines despite media coverage of their openings.
Qatar's efforts to prevent abuse of foreign workers have not improved considerably over the evaluation period. Although it publicized the opening of the shelter and hotlines for trafficking victims, the government has not pursued broad information campaigns to increase the public's awareness of trafficking. The government published some pamphlets on worker's rights in English and Arabic to distribute to incoming employees and monitors immigration patterns for evidence of trafficking.