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Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                              

State of Qatar

Oil and gas have made Qatar the second highest per-capita income country - following Liechtenstein - and one of the world's fastest growing. Proved oil reserves of 15 billion barrels should enable continued output at current levels for 37 years. Qatar's proved reserves of natural gas are nearly 26 trillion cubic meters, about 14% of the world total and third largest in the world.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Qatar

Qatar is a transit and destination country for men and women trafficked for the purposes of involuntary servitude and, to a lesser extent, commercial sexual exploitation. Men and women from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Sudan, Thailand, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and China voluntarily travel to Qatar as laborers and domestic servants, but some subsequently face conditions indicative of involuntary servitude. These conditions include threats of serious harm, including financial harm; job switching; withholding of pay; charging workers for benefits for which the employer is responsible; restrictions on freedom of movement, including the confiscation of passports and travel documents and the withholding of exit permits; arbitrary detention; threats of legal action and deportation; false charges; and physical, mental and sexual abuse. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out a later country report here and possibly a full TIP Report here


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Qatar.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

HELP for Victims

The National Office of Combating Trafficking in Humans
Country code: 974-



Qatar studies new law to tackle human trafficking

Barbara Bibbo', Gulf News, June 12, 2007

[accessed 19 December 2010]


[accessed 5 May 2020]

Qatar has a population of 800,000, the majority of whom are expatriate low-income workers in the energy and construction sectors.  Indian nationals represent the largest foreign community, followed by Filipinos and Nepalese. The three communities together total more than 400,000 people, according to unofficial estimates provided by the diplomatic missions here.

Qatar and Gulf immigration and labour policies require that migrants work under local sponsors, a measure which Qatari Prime Minister Shaikh Hamad Bin Jasem Bin Jabr Al Thani just two weeks ago compared to a form of slavery raising concerns in the local business community.

The 2022 World Cup: Human Trafficking In Qatar

Cem Gokhan, The Borgen Project, 5 February 2021

[accessed 3 March 2021]

Unscrupulous, predatory and loan-sharking recruiters in laborers’ home countries often work closely with contractors in Qatar to lure workers to the peninsula for extended periods of time under false pretenses. Upon arrival in the country, migrants are at the mercy of Qatar’s Kafala system of laws that govern the relationships between migrants, their employers and the Qatari state, placing economic migrants in a dangerous position of dependency. Under this structure of rules, the migrants’ visa and work permit status ties to a sponsor or employer which makes it illegal for workers to leave their employer or indeed the country itself without the employer’s official permission, creating a situation that is ripe for economic bondage and human trafficking in Qatar.


*** TO GET HELP ***

Hotline set up to combat human trafficking466-9888  &  564-3388

Peninsula News Paper , March 16, 2009,6566,6566

[accessed 19 December 2010]

[accessed 5 May 2020]

The Qatar Foundation for Combating Human Trafficking (QFCHT) has set up hotlines - 4669888 & 5643388 - for receiving complaints from victims of human trafficking.

*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Qatar

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 22 June 2021]


There were continuing indications of forced labor, especially among migrant workers in the construction and domestic-labor sectors. Exorbitant recruitment fees incurred abroad entrapped many workers in long-term debt, making them more vulnerable to exploitation. Some foreign workers who voluntarily entered the country to work had their passports, ATM cards, and pay withheld and worked under conditions to which they had not agreed. One migrant worker told an NGO that his employer threatened him and nearly 1,000 other employees with deportation if they refused to sign new contracts with substantially lower wages. Another migrant worker said his company had not paid its workers in five months. Contract substitution remained a problem, according to representatives of the migrant worker community; however, to help eliminate the practice, a government electronic contracting system existed in several third countries where workers are hired. Embassies of labor-sending countries reported this new system helped significantly reduce contract substitution and the number of workers who arrived in Doha without contracts.


The government effectively enforced the applicable law.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 8 July 2020]


Many foreign nationals face economic abuses including the withholding of salaries, contract manipulation, poor living conditions, and excessive working hours. However, fear of job loss and deportation often prevents them from asserting their limited rights. Female household workers are particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. International organizations have drawn attention to the harsh working conditions of migrants building the infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup.

The government has undertaken reforms to mitigate some of these problems. In 2017, the emir ratified a new law that provided labor rights to household workers, guaranteeing a maximum 10-hour working day, one rest day a week, three weeks of annual leave, and an end-of-service payment, among other provisions, though it failed to set out enforcement mechanisms to ensure compliance. Its standards are also weaker than those in the main labor law. In October 2019, the cabinet approved the establishment of a nondiscriminatory minimum wage that would apply across sectors and regardless of nationality; implementation was expected in 2020.

Kingdom of Slaves in the Persian Gulf

Sam Badger, Giorgio Cafiero and Foreign Policy In Focus, 16 September 2014

[accessed 5 May 2020]

INDENTURED SERVITUDE - A key plank in the Gulf’s foreign labor apparatus is called the kafala, or “sponsorship,” system.

The system entails middlemen who travel to Southeast Asia and sell the right to work in the Gulf to prospective migrants. Once in debt to the middlemen, who “sponsor” the workers’ right to travel to the Gulf, the laborers are expected to pay off their debt to the sponsor by working long hours—often in the construction industry, where workers labor away in temperatures that can rise above 50 degrees Celsius, or 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

Yet because permission from their sponsor is required to seek a new employer, foreign laborers are often trapped in their jobs. This ensures that their paltry wages are used to pay off the debt incurred by their travel. Without citizenship or any political rights, and unable to exit the country—their passports are frequently seized by authorities upon arrival—these foreign workers are trapped in what can only be described as virtual slavery or indentured servitude.

Foreign women employed as domestic workers for the GCC’s wealthy residents are particularly vulnerable to exploitation. Secluded in private homes and typically denied the right to leave, they’re often trapped with employers who withhold pay and subject them to appalling episodes of physical assault and sexual violence.

Qatar recruitment is human trafficking - says Legal Centre

Gilbert Boyefio, The Statesman, 24/02/2007

[accessed 26 June 2013]

After the arrival of the first batch of Ghanaians to the oil-rich Qatar three months ago, several disgruntled workers complained of conditions there, resulting in a Government fact-finding mission to investigate the allegations.  Workers claimed that housing and food was poor, that they had not been paid and that their passports had been taken from them by their employers.

Qatar's lawmakers strive to combat trafficking

Barbara Bibbo', Gulf News, November 14, 2006

[accessed 19 December 2010]

There are no statistics about the number of people who fall victim to traffickers in Qatar. However, Sigma Huda, UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, said as the Gulf country relied mainly on foreign workers, the problem of people falling victim to unscrupulous recruitment agencies and sponsors was particularly serious.  "We are concerned in particular for female domestic migrant workers, the most disadvantaged as they remain excluded from the protection of the current labour legislation."

Qatar 'not fully following rules to eliminate human trafficking'

Barbara Bibbo', Gulf News, June 7, 2006

[accessed 19 December 2010]

It said the government did not prosecute anyone on trafficking charges, despite reports of widespread exploitation of foreign domestic workers.  Qatar also lacks a screening mechanism to distinguish trafficking victims from illegal immigrants, it said.  "Although it does not have a specific anti-trafficking law, other criminal laws could be applied to combat trafficking, including laws against forced labour.

Awareness drive against human trafficking from Thursday

Peninsula News Paper, May 2006

[accessed 19 December 2010]

The Qatari House for Lodging and Human Care (QHLHC) will soon establish hotlines to receive complaints from victims of human trafficking, she said. "We will set up five lines and complaints in any language can be made."

QHLHC provides shelter for victims of human trafficking

Peninsula News Paper, 08 May 2006

[accessed 19 December 2010]

Finding the victims of human trafficking is only the first part of the challenge for the 'Qatari House for Lodging and Human Care' (QHLHC) a care centre that provides a safe shelter.

New rehabilitation center for abuse victims

Peninsula News Paper, 5 September 2005

[accessed 19 December 2010]

New rehabilitation center for abuse victims - A rehabilitation center has recently been established by the newly formed human rights department for victims of human trafficking, women forced into prostitution, abused domestic workers and children. The center will provide psychological counseling and rehabilitation to abuse victims, especially domestic workers and children, whose cases have been filed with the police or those referred by official bodies, such as the interior ministry, the National Human Rights Committee, the labor department, etc.

Camel Jockeys Trying To Recover Lost Childhood

Andrew Hammond, Reuters News, 10/05/2005

[accessed 25 April 2012]

Both the UAE and Qatar have talked about plans to use “robots” for camel jockeys, operated by remote control. They say the technology has been tried and tested, but locals involved in the sport doubt it will be popular or practical.  “These children have lost their childhood, they are living in hell,” he said, describing starvation to keep the boys light weight to race faster, long hours and sometimes sexual abuse. He said the shelter was paradise but doubted police were able to locate most children’s parents. “These boys should get compensation,” he said, adding he had found one as young as three.

Qatar to use robots in camel races

Faisal Baatoutn, Middle East Online, Doha, 2004-10-19

[accessed 19 December 2010]

[accessed 5 May 2020]

Qatar is set to substitute robots for jockeys in camel races, a favorite sport in the oil-rich Gulf region which has faced widespread criticism over the use of child jockeys from the Indian subcontinent.  But the sport's supremo in Doha insists Qatar never abused child camel jockeys in the first place and that the plan to use "robot-jockeys" within the coming year was not in response to protests by human rights groups.

The US State Department and human rights groups have raised the alarm over the exploitation of children by traffickers who pay impoverished parents a paltry sum or simply resort to kidnapping their victims.  The children, mostly from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka or Pakistan, are then smuggled into the oil-rich Gulf states.  They are often starved by employers to keep them light and maximize their racing potential. Mounting camels three times their height, the children - some as young as six - face the risk of being thrown off or trampled.

Qatar Bans Use of Children as Jockeys for Camels

Agence France-Presse AFP, 30 December 2004

[accessed 7 February 2016]

Qatar said Wednesday that it was banning the use of children as jockeys in camel races, a favorite sport in the Persian Gulf region that has been widely criticized over the use of children brought in from southern Asia.   The move, announced after a cabinet meeting, follows an announcement by the government that it was preparing to substitute robots for jockeys beginning next year.

Slavery of Children and women in Persian gulf countries

Morteza Aminmansour, Persian Journal, Jun 20, 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 10 September 2011]

Exact number of victims is impossible to obtain, but according to an official source in UAE, there has been increase in the number of teen-age girls in prostitution (forced to work from Iran and other countries). The magnitude of the statistic conveys how rapidly this form of abuse has grown. The popular destinations for victims of the sex slave trade are the Arab countries in the Persian Gulf (UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar). Traffickers target girls between 13 and 17 to send to Arab countries.

Dhaka blacklisted for human trafficking

The Daily Star, with Agence France-Presse AFP, 16 June 2004

[accessed 26 June 2013]

[accessed 22 February 2019]

Bangladeshi boys are also trafficked into the UAE and Qatar and forced to work as camel jockeys and beggars. Women and children from rural areas in Bangladesh are trafficked to urban centers for commercial sexual exploitation and domestic work.

The Young Slaves of Camel Racing - Riding for Their Lives

James Ridgeway, Nation, Mar 5, 2002

[accessed 7 February 2016]

[scroll down]

To read the reports, you would think you'd stumbled on some Mad Max film set. There stand the camels, all lined up in the starting gate, track stretching before them, tense crowds gathered round. Lashed atop the rear of each racing camel, just behind the hump, is the jockey, crop in hand.  The camera zooms in on the rider. Wait a moment! This is not an experienced athlete, but a small boy. He looks about five years old. Eyes wide with fright, he is fastened to the beast with Velcro.

Ansar Burney Trust rescues two more 'Child Camel Jockeys' in UAE

Pakistan Press International PPI, Lahore, October 09, 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 10 September 2011]

The Ansar Burney Welfare Trust International is the only human rights organisation working since last several years practically against slave labour in Middle East and Arab Countries to rescue the innocent children working as child camel jockeys in very worst circumstances. It has rescued total 318 children in this current year, 147 children on slave in UAE and 171 children from Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Muscat, Kuwait and other parts of the Arab and Middle East countries and sent them back to Bangladesh, Pakistan, Srilanka and other respective countries for their rehabilitation. These children were trafficked from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and several countries in Africa and brought to the Middle Eastern and Arab countries for several reasons including for sex and slave labour.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 12 October 2001

[accessed 19 December 2010]

[57]. The Committee is seriously concerned at the hazardous situation of children involved in camel racing. In particular, it is concerned that sometimes very young children are involved; are trafficked, particularly from Africa (i.e. the Sudan) and South Asia; and are denied education and health care; and that such involvement produces serious injuries, even fatalities.

Work Worries - Women going abroad to work is leading to more human trafficking

Lanka Business Online, 04 Mar 2005

[accessed 17 February 2011]

Sri Lankan women are trafficked to Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar, mainly as sex workers or for forced labor.


Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 10 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – Young boys were trafficked into the country to serve as jockeys in camel races early in the year. However, on July 28, Law No. 22, banning the transport, employment, training, and involvement of children under the age of 18 in camel races, came into force. According to Article 4, anyone who violates the law faces 3 to 10 years imprisonment and a fine ranging between $13,000 (47,320 riyals) and $55,000 (200,200 riyals).

Between the months of June and August, the government repatriated approximately 200 children jockeys to Sudan. According to officials at the Embassy of Sudan, no Sudanese camel jockeys remained in the country. The Qatar Charitable Society, in coordination with the Sudanese-based National Council for Childhood Care and the Qatari Embassy in Khartoum, will administer the government's program to rehabilitate and integrate the repatriated camel jockeys.

Men and women were trafficked into situations of coerced labor. Legislation guiding the sponsorship of expatriate labors has created conditions constituting forced labor or slavery.

The country also was a destination for women and girls who traveled to the country to work as domestic servants. Two embassies reported that a total of 600 of their nationals had been forced into domestic servitude and sexual exploitation.

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