New report on deaths of migrant workers in Qatar

A new report published today by Amnesty International, with the support of FairSquare, finds that Qatari authorities have failed to investigate the deaths of thousands of migrant workers over the past decade, despite evidence of links between premature deaths and unsafe working conditions.

FairSquare Research provided research support and advice to Amnesty on “In the prime of their lives”: Qatar’s failure to investigate, remedy and prevent migrant workers’ deaths.

The report documents how Qatar routinely issues death certificates for migrant workers without conducting adequate investigations, instead attributing deaths to “natural causes” or vaguely defined cardiac failures. These certifications – described by one leading pathologist as “meaningless” – rule out the possibility of compensation for bereaved families, many of whom are already facing financial difficulties after losing their main breadwinner.

The publication also highlights the risks posed to workers by Qatar’s extreme climate, especially when combined with excessive and physically strenuous working hours. Qatar recently introduced some new protections for workers, but major risks remain and authorities have done little to investigate the scale of heat-related deaths. Steve Cockburn of Amnesty said:

“In failing to investigate the underlying causes of migrant workers’ deaths, the Qatari authorities are ignoring warning signs which could, if addressed, save lives. This is a violation of the right to life. They are also denying bereaved families their right to remedy, and leaving them with painful unanswered questions.”

FairSquare is separately working with a network of partner organisations on the Vital Signs project, an initiative to quantify and research the deaths of migrant workers from five Asian origin countries – Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Philippines – in the six GCC states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE).