November 8 – The International Labour Organization has halted a potential investigation into Qatar’s employment practises after the government in Doha introduced legislation to protect foreign workers and pledged further reforms.
The Geneva-based United Nations agency said it had closed a formal complaint procedure “concerning non-observance by Qatar of the Forced Labour Convention.”
In 2014, the ILO opened an inquiry into whether Qatar had violated its obligations. Last month, under the global spotlight over its treatment of foreign workers, Qatari authorities agreed a range of labour reforms including the introduction of a minimum wage and the abolition of the ‘kafala’ sponsorship system that binds workers to their employer.
The reforms were announced just a couple of weeks before an ILO meeting which could have led to a formal investigation. As a result a decision to halt the initiative was taken by the ILO’s Governing Body, meaning it will not set up a commission of inquiry into alleged exploitation of workers in the 2022 World Cup host nation.
Qatar’s labour minister Issa bin Saad Al Jafali Al Nuaimi, addressing the ILO forum, commented: “Qatar will remain mindful to guaranteeing all rights of workers and to safeguard their interests.”
ILO governing body chair Luc Cortebeeck said in a statement that the “real commitment by the government of Qatar to make positive change on the ground for all workers is a very encouraging development.”
The ILO’s stamp of approval marks a significant public relations victory for World Cup organisers though Swiss prosecutors are still conducting a wide-ranging probe into the activities of Qatari officials in securing the 2022 tournament though Swiss sources suggest that investigators are failing to make progress with that investigation and the wider probe into FIFA’s former management and practices.
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