(Beirut) – The bill that Qatar’s emir signed on September 4, 2018 now allows foreign workers the right to leave the country but excludes several key groups of workers and falls short of Qatar’s reform pledges over the last year, Human Rights Watch said today. Qatar, which is hosting the 2022 Football World Cup and employing thousands of extra migrant workers to build infrastructure for the tournament, has come under increased scrutiny of its treatment of foreign workers since winning the bid.
Law No. 13 of 2018 cancels requirements for most migrant workers covered under the country’s labor law to get permission from their employer to leave the country, a longstanding violation of workers’ rights. The exit visa requirement enabled employers to arbitrarily prevent employees from returning to their home country. However, the new law which allows the temporary exit or final departure of a migrant worker, excludes migrants not under the labor law including those in the military, public sector, and domestic work, and allows employers to apply to exclude some other workers. Qatari authorities should end exit permit requirements for all workers.