If you are currently working as an expat in Qatar, keep in mind that you are entitled to certain rights, including those related to your safety and well-being. Fortunately, the government of Qatar is dedicated to upholding and protecting the rights of its workers.
At the institutional level, the Kingdom has established government bodies focused on combating human trafficking. Among other initiatives, it has also set up a shelter that provides assistance — legal, financial, temporary employment, and moral support — to victims of human trafficking.
Qatar’s Efforts Against Human Trafficking Crimes
Last July 2019, the Kingdom’s National Committee for Combating Human Trafficking (NCCHT) marked the World Day against Human Trafficking, the Gulf Times reported. During this event, key officials reviewed the government’s achievements in combating human trafficking.
The Secretary of NCCHT, Mohamed Hassan Al-Obaidly, pointed out that human trafficking is a serious breach of man’s basic rights to human dignity, security, and freedom. He also said that it contradicts human values and religious principles, involves several crimes, and requires the cooperation of everyone, including those at the international level.
Under the leadership of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Al-Obaidly stated that the Kingdom has taken all the necessary measures to maintain human dignity as well as enhance and protect human rights.
Al-Obaidly discussed several legal tools introduced to combat human trafficking: Law No. 15 for 2011 on Human Trafficking; Law No. 21 for 2015, which abolished the Kafala system; and Law No. 15 for 2017, which concerns domestic workers. He also cited the establishment of the NCCHT, and Qatar’s participation in international agreements and treaties.
Positive Measures for Foreign Workers
The Head of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Project Office in Doha, Houtan Homayounpour, commended Qatar for its achievements in reforming the conditions of foreign workers. These reforms include the following:
- Removal of the need for exit permit for majority of foreign workers;
- Promotion of fair recruitment;
- Establishment of Qatar visa centres;
- Establishment of joint committees;
- Introduction of new laws that protect domestic workers; and
- Improved monitoring of conditions and complaints mechanism regarding trafficking.
Homoyounpour also praised the Qatar’s newly-opened Human Care Centre, which offers assistance and protection to victims of human trafficking.
For his part, the Secretary General of Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS), Ali Bin Hassan Al-Hammadi, referred to Qatar as a pioneer in the field of anti-trafficking, having establish the NCCHT, the Ministry of Interior – Human Rights Department, and the National Human Rights Committee, among other initiatives, with regard to the protection of human rights.
The National Human Rights Committee
The National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) was established in accordance with Decree Law No. 38 for 2002. Eventually, it was re-organized in accordance with Decree Law No. 17 for 2010, which confirmed the committee’s independence as a permanent official body.
Notably, the vision and mission of the NHRC, according to its official website, are as follows:
“We continue to firmly protect and develop human rights in the State of Qatar.”
“Protect human rights and protect their dignity;
Mobilize the capabilities of society to understand and exercise their rights and duties;
Apply the values of social justice and tolerance;
Promote equality and non-discrimination;
Stop human rights violations; and
Announce positions and prepare periodic reports that promote human rights in the State of Qatar.”
The NHRC has been accredited “A” status by the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights (ICC). It is also a member of the Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA) of the ICC.
About the Human Care Centre
Last year, the NCCHT opened the Human Care Centre, which provides assistance and protection to human trafficking victims. The centre assists in the victims’ rehabilitation and integration into society, providing them with temporary employment until their departure for their home country is ensured, according to the Qatar Tribune.
The centre’s inauguration was announced by NCCHT Secretary Mohamed Hasan Al-Obaidly, who also happens to be the Undersecretary for the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour, and Social Affairs (MADLSA).
Al-Obaidly shared that the shelter provides immediate relief to victims of human trafficking, and it goes in line with Qatar’s commitment to combating the crime of trafficking in persons.
Here are some details about the shelter, according to QRCS Secretary General Ali Bin Hassan Al-Hammadi:
- The Human Care Centre includes six villas, each of which can accommodate up to 52 persons.
- Two villas will be for males, two will be for females, and one each for preparing food and other services for male and female workers.
- The centre operates in partnership with Qatar Charity, which provides funding, and Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS), which manages the centre’s day-to-day affairs.
Meanwhile, an official from MADLSA said that the furnishings of the Human Care Centre had been done in a decent and distinguished manner, with appropriate mechanisms in place. The official also shared that a human trafficking victim can stay in the shelter until justice is achieved in his/her case.
The official added that victims of human trafficking may file a complaint through the NCCHT website. They may also submit a complaint through Qatar’s security department, which ordinarily receives criminal complaints. Coordination will be done among the different departments so that the victims may be placed in the Human Care Centre.
Houtan Homayounpour, Head of ILO Project Office in DOHA, shared that he has personally visited the shelter and is satisfied with its facilities. He considers the Human Care Centre as a significant step towards making sure that victims of human trafficking get the help that they need.
Human trafficking is a serious matter, not only in Qatar but all over the world. So it is truly reassuring to know that the Kingdom has been taking huge steps towards protecting the rights of its people, including foreign workers. If you are a victim of human trafficking, or know anyone who is, here are some important telephone numbers in Qatar that you should call at once.
DISCLAIMER: The above details are presented for information-sharing purposes only. For more information about anti-trafficking programs in Qatar, please visit the official website of the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC).