(Tier 2) – Extracted in part
from the U.S. State Dept 2023 TIP Report
The Government of Qatar does not fully meet the
minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making
significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall
increasing efforts compared with the previous reporting period, considering
the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, if any, on its anti-trafficking
capacity; therefore Qatar remained on Tier 2. These efforts included
increasing investigations, prosecutions, and convictions of suspected traffickers,
including investigating an allegedly complicit official. The
government also identified significantly more victims, all of whom it
referred to and assisted at its anti-trafficking shelter, which re-opened
in October 2022. Additionally, it linked government systems between
the Ministry of Labor (MOL) and Ministry of Interior (MOI) to address
employers’ use of false “absconding” charges on workers
attempting to change jobs or file complaints, which may have reduced the
vulnerability to trafficking for such workers seeking to remove themselves
from exploitive situations. The government also increased the number
of specialized prosecutors in the Public Prosecutor’s Office (PPO) to
improve its capacity to investigate and prosecute alleged trafficking
crimes. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in
several key areas. Officials continued to routinely use arbitration
and administrative penalties to resolve grievances filed by migrant
workers, including domestic workers, instead of investigating such cases as
possible human trafficking crimes, including cases of severe wage theft or
worker-paid recruitment fees, both considered trafficking indicators.
The government’s anti-trafficking shelter did not provide long-term
care or allow victims freedom to leave, work during their stay or
self-refer; the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT)
remained the sole government entity able to officially refer victims to the
shelter, which may have limited care victims received and delayed other
victims from receiving care in a timely manner. Authorities also
reportedly arrested, detained, and deported potential trafficking victims
for immigration and “prostitution” violations, fleeing their
employers or sponsors, and at times when seeking remedy for labor
violations including wage theft. Some workers continued to face
obstacles when attempting to change jobs without employer permission under
the most recent reform to Qatar’s visa sponsorship system.
Finally, the government did not effectively prevent the further
exploitation, including trafficking, of vulnerable populations –
particularly migrant workers – some of whom were reportedly affected
by expedited preparations leading up to the World Cup.
Consider labor violations and
complaints with trafficking indicators as potential labor trafficking
crimes and investigate them accordingly, including cases of non-payment or
delayed salaries, passport confiscation, excessive hours, and worker-paid recruitment
Prevent penalization of
trafficking victims by screening for trafficking indicators among those
arrested for immigration violations or prostitution, those who flee abusive
employers and face counter-charges – such as “absconding”
and those seeking remedy for labor abuses – especially in cases of
severe wage theft.
Draft and finalize formal
procedures to proactively identify victims of all forms of trafficking,
including Cuban medical professionals and People’s Republic of China
(PRC) overseas workers, and institute regular trainings for all officials
on how to employ these procedures systematically.
Draft and finalize official
victim referral procedures and widely disseminate such procedures to all
Allow other government and non-government
entities outside of the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking
(NCCHT) to refer victims to care.
Equip the specialized trafficking
shelter with long-term care options and allow victims freedom of movement
and the opportunity to work while in the shelter.
Ensure the Wage Protection System
(WPS) covers all companies and individuals, including domestic workers, and
holds accountable violators with deterrent penalties, and ensure officials
screen all wage theft cases for other trafficking indicators.
Increase efforts to prosecute
trafficking offenses, particularly labor trafficking crimes, and to convict
and punish traffickers under the 2011 anti-trafficking law, rather than
other criminal laws, when applicable.
Expand training on the application
of the anti-trafficking law to judicial authorities to ensure courts do not
drop trafficking charges against defendants, when applicable.
Continue to implement reforms to
the sponsorship system by streamlining transfer procedures and disseminate
clear guidance on the legal requirements to change jobs to mitigate the
burden on workers.
Prohibit employers from filing
“absconding” charges or cancelling residency permits in
retaliation for workers utilizing these reforms and hold non-compliant
employers accountable with adequate penalties.
Increase capacity of Labor
Dispute Resolution Committees (LDRCs) to refer suspected trafficking cases
for criminal investigative proceedings and ensure verdicts rendered by the
committee can be enforced without workers filing a civil court case.