Migrant workers face modern day slavery in Qatar
Qatar offers up Asian and African workers like real life slaves. It is a kin to human trafficking when someone like Jonnadula agrees to take a job as a chauffeur then ends up forced to work a hard labour job without his consent. He is not allowed to leave the country, his employer holds his passport and work permit, treats him awfully and doesn’t even provide basic health and nutrition.
28 year old Indian Jonnadula Maruthi Prasad says he was duped into working in Qatar, now he wants to go home but he is detained in Doha. His employer refuses to give him the permission he needs to leave the country, forces him to work in a job he didn’t accept, where he risks venomous snake encounters and then only feeds him very little, once a day.
Jonnadula took to social media to beg for help. He had tried the police, reporting that he had been physically attacked and abused by his employer. “I came over to accept a job as a household chauffeur but now I’m forced to work very hard labour in the fields, with lots of scorpions and snakes. I am treated very badly, no medical and no food, only once a day. I am being hit and tortured”, he told Detained in Doha and Due Process International’s CEO Radha Stirling who issued the following statement:
“The Times of India has just announced that fifty thousand Indians are desperate for repatriation from Qatar, reporting abandonment by their own country and being turned away at the Embassy in Doha. This is not a covid-19 issue though, the abuse of migrant workers has been a long standing issue for years.
“Qatar offers up Asian and African workers like real life slaves. It is a kin to human trafficking when someone like Jonnadula agrees to take a job as a chauffeur then ends up forced to work a hard labour job without his consent. He is not allowed to leave the country, his employer holds his passport and work permit, treats him awfully and doesn’t even provide basic health and nutrition.
“This practice is not only sanctioned by officials, it is encouraged. It gives Qatar an advantage over other countries, it allows them to cheaply build exhibits like the Qatar 2022 World Cup Stadium, while deflecting criticism for human rights violations. Qatar so readily plays victim when it comes to reputational assaults by its adversaries in the Gulf, criticises the UAE for human rights violations, but does nothing to address the despicable enslavement of foreign workers, a practice that has been criticised by human rights organisations like Amnesty & HRW.
“If an employee must sacrifice his passport and seek permission from his employer or business partner to leave the country, his chances of mistreatment escalate. He has no position of power and his employer can do with him what he will. This has been the case for Jonnadula. The police will not help him. All he wants to do is stop the mistreatment and go home. This very simple request, if not granted, exemplifies that slavery is still live and active in Qatar.
“It’s not just the migrant workers, entrepreneurs and businessmen are equally detained in the country, like Jonathan Nash, Joseph Sarlak and Ranald Crook. Qatar’s system allows for the systematic abuse of foreign workers, businesspeople, entrepreneurs and investors. Until the playing field is levelled out, Qatar remains a risky place to foreigners.
“We are appealing to the Qatar and Indian authorities on behalf of Jonnadula. He is not a criminal and he is not a slave, yet he is being treated like one. He only wishes to return home.
“We urge foreign governments to issue warnings to citizens of the risks of working or investing in Qatar.”
Radha Stirling founded Detained in Dubai in 2008 and has since helped and advised more than 15,000 foreign nationals facing trouble in the UAE. Stirling is an expert witness, civil and criminal justice specialist, legislative, investment risk, business and policy advisor to the public and private sectors, speaker and host of the Gulf in Justice Podcast, covering the region in depth.