How Bad Are Qatar's Human Rights Violations?

Despite its wealth, Qatar faces numerous accusations of violating human rights. So what violations is the country accused of?

In 2010, the small and oil-rich nation of Qatar won the rights to host the 2022 World Cup. It was an extremely controversial decision, with critics contending that Qatar's long list of human rights violations should preclude eligibility.

Since then, things have only gotten worse. Tim Poole explains in today's Seeker Daily report.

Qatar is under a particularly bright light in recent months due to a recent and highly publicized international incident. When a visiting Dutch woman reported that she had been raped at a hotel in the nation's capitol, Qatar authorities convicted the woman of adultery and detained her for more than three months.

The incident prompted international outrage and media reports subsequently exposed Qatar's other human rights abuses, particularly in regard to migrant workers. Qatar is among the wealthiest nations in the world. Rapid development has created hundreds of thousands of labor jobs. To fill those jobs, Qatar relies of low-paid migrant workers from Asia and Africa.

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According to Amnesty International and other human rights groups, the vast majority of these migrant workers are unfairly paid and, in many respects, essentially treated like slaves. Workers are forced to live in cramped and filthy labor camps and subject to physical and sexual abuse. As of June 2016, it's estimated that 1.5 million workers -- around 60 percent of Qatar's population -- live under such conditions.

And thanks to Qatar's employment sponsorship laws, these workers are basically trapped in the country after they arrive. Employers can strip workers of their passports and exit permits, and if workers attempt to leave anyway, they can be legally arrested and detained as "absconded workers" -- a phrase that doesn't rhyme with "runaway slave," but may as well.

International observers have long regarded Qatar's legal system as corrupt and abusive. The country's constitution is based on Sharia Law, a strict interpretation of the teachings of Islam. As such, harsh punishments like flogging and stoning are legal for offenses like alcohol consumption, extramarital sex and blasphemy.

Meanwhile, Qatar's labor camps have expanded significantly since the World Cup announcement. In light of the country's track record, many are calling for soccer's governing body FIFA to pull the World Cup out of Qatar in 2022. The Qatari government has promised to improve conditions, but reforms to the labor code have so far failed to make any difference at all.

-- Glenn McDonald

Learn More:

Human Rights Watch: World Report 2015: Qatar

The Atlantic: Qatar's Prosecution of an Alleged Rape Victim

Amnesty International: Foreign domestic workers in Qatar: Shocking cases of deception, forced labour, violence

New York Times: U.N. Inquiry Criticizes Qatar's Justice System