Freedom of expression continued to be curtailed. New cases of torture emerged. Women continued to face discrimination in law and practice, as well as violence. Foreign migrant workers, who comprised the majority of the workforce, were exploited, abused and inadequately protected under the law. At least one death sentence was imposed; no executions were reported.
The authorities maintained strict controls on freedom of expression, and moved to tighten these further with a new draft media law. If approved, this would require all publications to be approved by a government-appointed “competent authority” empowered to remove content or prevent printing.
Foreign migrant workers, who comprised more than 90% of Qatar’s workforce, continued to be exploited and abused by employers despite protective provisions set out in the 2004 Labour Law and related decrees, which the authorities failed to adequately enforce. Workers’ living conditions were often grossly inadequate and many workers said they were made to work excessive hours beyond the legal maximum or were paid far less than agreed when they were contracted.
Migrant domestic workers, mostly women, and certain other workers were specifically excluded from the 2004 Labour Law, exposing them to greater labour exploitation and abuse, including sexual abuse. The government had previously committed to enact legislation to address this problem but it had not done so by the end of the year.
The 2009 Sponsorship Law, which requires foreign workers to obtain a sponsor’s permission to leave Qatar or change employer, was exploited by employers to prevent workers from complaining to the authorities or moving to a new job in the event of abuse. The sponsorship system increased the likelihood of workers being subjected to forced labour. In October the state news agency reported that the Cabinet would form a panel to study the sponsorship issue.Top of page
Some 100 people, mostly members of al-Murra tribe who were arbitrarily stripped of their Qatari nationality in previous years, continued to be denied access to employment, social security and health care due to their statelessness. They were not permitted to challenge the decision to revoke their nationality in the courts and were denied any means of remedy.Top of page
New cases of torture and other ill-treatment emerged.
In November, following its review of Qatar’s implementation of the UN Convention against Torture, the UN Committee against Torture urged the government to ensure that the fundamental safeguards required by the Convention were applied in practice to all persons deprived of their liberty, including by ensuring that complaints of abuse were promptly and impartially examined and that detainees could challenge the legality of their detention or treatment.Top of page
Women continued to face discrimination in law and practice and were inadequately protected against violence within the family. In particular, family law discriminated against women, making it much easier for men to seek divorce compared to women, and placing women at a severe economic disadvantage if they sought divorce or if their husbands left them.Top of page
At least one death sentence was imposed, on a Sri Lankan man convicted of murder; no executions were reported. Prisoners on death row included at least six men sentenced to death in 2001 for participating in a 1996 plot to overthrow the government.Top of page