We need your help
The Human Rights Committee and Ministry of Interior here in Qatar must become pro-active in ending the abuses taking place in its own country.
Human Rights abuses are more frequent in Qatar than what is actually reported. They are masked and hidden to the outward eyes looking in! The sponsors abusing law and human rights are often protected because they are Qatari Nationals. The rest of us which experience this abuse live in fear of reporting it to Authorities. Even in cases where it is reported, next to no action is taken against the perpetrator.
Instead those that do report such actions are often cancelled and deported or left to face bogus cases with all their rights stripped from them.
Come inside Qatar with us to take a look at what this dynamic, growing country, striving to gain a respectable image around the world - is really about.
Come on Inside!
Inside we see new towers everyday; grass growing in a baren land that once just a dessert; flowers that bloom in all shades and colors; a beautiful sea that practically surrounds the entire country; and the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
One can only look on with great respect as this small country comes to life under amazing leadership. Qatar's vision under his excellency comes alive because of the hundreds of thousands of laborers and people from all professions and nationalities that come to bring this vision to reality!
The expat community are contributing members of this society and this country. Without this community today and its ability to be sustained in the future Qatar will not realize its' ultimate vision.
One would have us believe that from a human rights point of view Qatar is progressing. It has in many ways progressed by instituting organizations such as the National Human Rights Committee. But at the end of day these bodies have next to no decision making authority.
The laws are in place but there is no one to enforce them. Let's take a look inside Qatar at what life is really like for the expats that devoted a part of their life to come and build this nation.
Let's take a look at all the camps of laborer's where accomodations are not fit for animals let only people.
Let us look at all the laborer's who came to Qatar from difficult countries with the hope of being able to provide better for their families. Their dream's shattered when they go months without the salary they rightfully earned.
Let us look at all the worker's needlessly killed and seriously injured because their employees chose to break the law.
Let us look at how often a sponsor gets away with wreckless and criminal negligence only to have those seeking their rights promised by law punished.
When you come inside you will wonder how is such a wealthy country, with such strong leadership and vision allowing it's own people to abuse human rights.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Fully committed to her husband's vision is Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned.
Together they are committed to making Qatar a prosperous, developed and sustainable society with a strong leadership voice on the Interational stage. As leaders and great visionaries, we believe in and support their actions.
But there are still things in this country that require change. Namely the sponsorship laws. Most sponsors in Qatar are excellent and professional people. Working under such sponsors and with good professional companies can be a very rewarding experience.
But what happens when you end up with an abusive sponsor in a company that is grossly negligent and does not even respect its' own laws? A sponsor that controls your life, your work, your movements, your freedom. What happens when you dare to question your right to be paid under such a sponsor? Or you dare too question the breaking of laws or treating people inhumanely like animals? What happens when you decide you cannot work in a company like this?
Despite the great many achievements in this wonderful country, there are still companies and sponsors that are getting away with things that are simply not tolerated by the vast majority of the world.
We started this blob in an attempt to raise awareness of the situation at Group Security System. Since that time very little has been done to hold this sponsor accountable. Employees remain in the same vial situation since it was reported to the Ministry of Interior, Human Rights Committee and Department of Labor.
What has come from this experience for us has been a greater awareness of human rights in Qatar. It is shocking to see how much is hidden, not reported and left to go by the way-side with no consequence or accountability.
You can help us by sending your messages of concern to the Minister of Interior and Amnesty International. Email the Minister of Interior at firstname.lastname@example.org and Amnesty International at email@example.com
Dear Mr. Minister,
We seek your urgent assistance for the employees of Group Security System in Doha, Qatar. These employees are not being paid for long periods of time and are living in bacteria infested accomodations with minimal water and basic needs. They are terrified to ask for the basic rights which is to be paid for the work they do. Requests for salary and basic needs will result in immediate cancellation and exit from the country. They are not even given the opportunity to reach CEID or the Labor Board before being exited.
We request Mr. Minister that you investigate this matter urgently.
At the beginning of November 2007, after not being paid for two months the employees at Group Security System wrote a letter to the owner asking to be paid.
Upon receipt of the letters and to prove his point to employees, GSS cancelled three people for daring to ask and coordinate such a letter. Here are two of their stories:
The owner went to the accomodations at Al Rayan and in front of many staff members slapped this man in the face a few times and then locked him in his room. While locked in his room, they prepared cancellation papers and then physically escorted him to the airport so he would have no chance to complain to authorities.
The second happened to be a lady from the Phillipines. Her personal home was invaded by four GSS staff while they forced her to pack and collect her belongings. She was escorted to the airport where they held her bags and money in the parking control room, giving her no opportunity to get help. She left without the benefits she was entitled too.
The control room is at the Doha International Airport who happen to contract with this company. We don't think they know the extent of the negligence that goes on. Nor do we understand how an award winning airline like Qatar Airways does business with a company that is ignorant to the basic rights of their employees.
There is no easy way to explain what the accommodations for the GSS staff are like. For many it is like nothing we have ever seen before. For the managers of GSS visiting there always proved to be difficult. Staff would group together refusing to get on the buses for work because of non-payment of salary - so managers always had to run out to the camps.
Each and everytime was a dreaded experience having to go to the camps. It does not seem possible to work in a company that makes people live this way. For the owner, I doubted he cared much as his homes in Qatar, Beruit and Dubai are perfect. But for the managers there was a feeling of embarassment and shame.
Our Canadian friends tell us that one night she was called to the accomodations because of salary issues. It was dark and as she opened the door to enter the camp she stepped into two feet of sewage. The entire camp was flooded with sewage. The smell was foul and she was sick. The thought that her feet and legs were standing in sewage brought her stomach right to her throat. Her staff stayed four days in this sewage before they managed to scrap some money together to get it cleaned out.
The camps are dirtier than most barns where animals live. There is often backed up sewage in the washrooms and broken pipes that spills out to other areas. The bacteria and other matter which one would dare not touch is sometimes an inch thick. The accommodations are a cestpool of bacteria, sewage and fecal matter and we dare not wonder what viruses, diseases and other things are growing in there. The kitchen is a place you would not dare to cook in or even put your food in.
There are cockroaches the size of something most have never seen before. Many of the men passed good parts of the summer with no airconditioning in the room and there is never enough water for all them. Not to mention no drinking water at all!
Some have no beds and must sleep on the floor, while others that do have beds would be better off on the floors. These people work 12 hours a day, seven days a week with no break. They don't get paid, and then they go home to live in a cestpool of garbage and waste. They ask only for their basic rights and nothing more.
If you are not happy with how you must live or not getting paid you have no option at GSS. You are forced to continue to work there and if you complain rest assured you will be cancelled. Tell us would you do it?
In the News - The Gulf Times - Sleepless in Doha
Letters to the Editor
Published: Monday, 11 August, 2008, 01:38 AM Doha Time
A sense of hope
Dear Sir, I would like to applaud Gulf Times for all its recent articles on the issues faced by the labour community in Qatar. It gives me a great sense of hope that people do in fact care about what happens to these people. I have had a very painful battle for well over a year now for having reported a company that was severely negligent with its employees and chose to break Qatar law.
While I have seen progress on behalf of the government and National Human Rights Committee, I feel that is very slow in coming. Companies are behaving this way because they are getting away with it and they bear no consequence for their actions. Since that time many labourers from other companies have come to me seeking help and guidance. I guess news spreads rapidly throughout this community and it is hard to turn your back on something you know is very wrong.
Reporting and following up on these matters has brought some help forward for these people. For me my actions have earned me the status of being detained by one owner determined to seek revenge. I have now been over one year in Qatar on an expired visa and am unable to exit.
Human Rights issues cannot be hidden by money and wealth and the companies who choose to behave in such a way should be exposed for what they are. I hope Gulf Times will continue to publish such stories.
Christine McPherson, P O Box 10445Doha
In the News
Since this accident we have made it a point to drive throughout Doha during the hours of 11:30 to 3:00 pm and have found many worksites were not shut down and laborers continued to work.