Home Human Rights Qatar’s security guards are forced labour

Qatar’s security guards are forced labour

Many guards found that Qatar's wages and working conditions were different from what they were promised.

Qatar’s security guards work in conditions that amount to forced labour, including in projects linked to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, according to a report by Amnesty International.

In a 74-page report, the human rights organization documents the experiences of 34 employees in eight private security companies in Qatar.

The companies provided services to government ministries and football stadiums, along with other infrastructure projects for the 2022 World Cup, such as hotels, transportation and sports facilities.

At least three companies have provided security for FIFA’s recent tournaments in Qatar, including the Club World Cup and the Arab Cup.

FIFA Arab Cup

Security guards, all migrant workers, have described that work is routinely running 12 hours a day, seven days a week, often for months or even consecutive years without a single day off.

Most also said that employers had refused to respect the law’s weekly rest day, and that workers who took their day off had been arbitrarily subjected to deductions from their wages.

Qatari laws and regulations limit weekly working hours to a maximum of 60 hours, including overtime, workers are entitled to a paid rest day each week But most security guards who spoke to Amnesty International said they worked 12 hours a day and were denied a day off. Many of them work 84 hours a week for weeks on end.

Milton, from Kenya, worked at a security company in a hotel until 2021. He said that on a normal day he would leave his home at 6.30 a.m. and return at 8 p.m., often spending months without a single day off.

Abdul, from Bangladesh, worked as a security guard from 2018 to mid-2021, and said he did not get a day off for three years.

Zeke, from Uganda, worked at the Club World Cup in February 2021, telling Amnesty International how he had to complete a week-long training session in preparation for the tournament where the training took place for eight hours immediately after his usual shift each day.

“Imagine working a shift of 12 hours and then being taken to the training center, training for eight hours all night, and then going to work at 5 in the morning so that you get four hours of sleep a day and you train all week, they think we’re machines,” he said.

Many guards travelled to Qatar and paid heavy recruitment fees, finding that wages and working conditions were very different from what they had been promised, and some reported that they had been subjected to significant fines for offences such as not wearing uniforms properly, or leaving their job to use the toilet without anyone covering it.


Stephen Cockburn, Amnesty International’s head of economic and social justice, said: “Many of the security guards we spoke to knew their employers were breaking the law but felt unable to challenge them.”

They had pursued their work physically and emotionally exhausted, and continued to perform their functions threatened with financial penalties in the event of default, termination of contract or deportation.

Despite Qatar’s attempts to make amendments to its labour laws, the progress it has made in recent years is minor, mostly theoretical, without practical application.

Reports of international organizations and human rights organizations indicate that violations in the private security sector, which will be in high demand during the World Cup, are significant and may lead to worse results, given the sector’s importance during the World Cup, especially since Qatari society is a conservative society and will not easily accept government facilities that have allowed booze and alcohol, as well as LGBT leniency and non-exposure.

It is FIFA’s great responsibility to do more to prevent Qatari violations in the inherently precarious private security sector, unless FIFA agrees to militarize the security of the World Cup, through its silence on Qatar’s recruitment of thousands of Turkish police forces to assist it in policing the World Cup.

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