Qatar: Kenyan Labour Rights Activist in Solitary Confinement

The Qatari authorities must immediately reveal the whereabouts of Kenyan labour rights activist Malcolm Bidali, five human rights and labour rights organizations said today. More than three weeks after Mr. Bidali was forcibly disappeared by state security services, authorities are still refusing to reveal his whereabouts or explain why he has been detained. In a phone call to his mother on May 20, Mr. Bidali said he was being held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day and that he had no access to a lawyer.

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Qatar: Fears grow for forcibly disappeared migrants’ rights activist

Qatari authorities must urgently reveal the whereabouts of Malcolm Bidali, a Kenyan national who has been forcibly disappeared since 4 May, when he was taken from his labour accommodation for questioning by the state security service. Malcolm is a security guard, blogger and activist, who has been vocal about the plight of migrant workers like himself and has written for a number of online platforms. A week before his arrest, Malcolm gave a presentation to a large group of civil society organizations and trade unions about his experience of working in Qatar.

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Qatar and FIFA should respond to boycott calls with action

In light of an investigation by The Guardian newspaper which detailed a troubling rate and number of unexplained migrant worker deaths in Qatar, FairSquare is calling on the Qatari authorities to put in place a series of protective measures to better protect the lives of low-paid migrant workers in the country.

The Guardian’s reporting has prompted supporters groups in Norway and Germany to call for their national teams to boycott Qatar 2022. Qatar has responded to The Guardian by saying that “the mortality rate among these [migrant worker] communities is within the expected range for the size and demographics of the population.” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said that boycotts are “not the right approach” and that “engagement and dialogue is the only and the best way forward to make changes happen.” 

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Launch of Vital Signs project

New initiative to study deaths of migrant workers in the Gulf

FairSquare is launching the Vital Signs project, a new initiative to quantify and research the deaths of migrant workers in the six GCC states.

Nobody knows the true figure for many migrant workers die in the Gulf, or the causes of their deaths. But available statistics indicate it is many thousands of people every year, a large majority of working age.

Vital Signs, which is being supported by Humanity United, will run from 2021 to 2023. Each year of the project will see the publication of a statistical report, examining key trends related to the deaths of migrant workers from five Asian origin countries – Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Philippines – in the Gulf states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The reports will make tailored recommendations to governments and others.

Find out more about the Vital Signs project

Business and human rights in Saudi Arabia

Guidance for businesses operating in Saudi Arabia

FairSquare has collaborated with Amnesty International on the production of new guidance for businesses operating in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has been seeking support from international investors and businesses to help deliver its flagship Vision 2030, with its expansive development plans capped by a set of “giga-projects” designed to spearhead the development of whole new economic sectors.

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New FairSquare Policy Brief on migrant workers in Saudi Arabia

New Policy Brief on migrant workers in Saudi Arabia

In a new policy brief released this month, FairSquare finds that the issue of migrant worker rights is likely to become ever more salient for the Saudi Arabian government in coming years.

With hundreds of thousands of migrants needed to construct the giga-projects that sit at the heart of the Crown Prince’s Vision 2030 strategic plan, international attention on this issue is certain to increase in the coming years. Until now migrant workers’ rights have rarely been given prominence, as external focus on the country has mainly centred around freedom of expression, women’s rights and the death penalty. Now flagship projects like Neom, the Red Sea Project and the leisure city of Qiddiya are likely to change all that.

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FairSquare on Qatar’s labour reforms

Implementation the key for Qatar’s migrant labour reform

In an article written for Migrant-Rights.org, FairSquare director James Lynch has called on Qatar to accompany its reformed kafala (sponsorship) law with simple procedures and effective enforcement:

“This appears to be a significant step forward and goes beyond what any other Gulf country has attempted in terms of introducing labour mobility for migrant workers.  If (and only if) this change is accompanied by simple procedures for workers to follow and rigorous enforcement, it will make a tangible difference to workers’ rights. It will also be in the interest of responsible businesses. Employers that respect their employees’ rights and pay decent wages should start to gain a competitive advantage.”

FairSquare additionally stresses that workers’ rights don’t begin and end with kafala and urges the government to follow up this reform with measures on wage theft and working conditions, to protect the rights and safety of migrant workers.


Covid-19 and migrant workers in the Gulf

NGO coalition calls on Gulf states to ensure protection of migrant workers during Covid-19 response

A coalition of trade unions and NGOs, including FairSquare Projects, has called on the Gulf states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to take steps to ensure that migrant workers receive adequate protection from Covid-19.

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Liverpool FC and worker deaths in Qatar

Liverpool FC backs FairSquare call for investigations into worker deaths in Qatar

Liverpool Football Club have supported calls by FairSquare for thorough investigations into the deaths of migrant workers in Qatar.

In a letter to FairSquare, ahead of Liverpool’s appearance at the Club World Cup in Qatar, the club’s Chief Executive said:

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Launch of the Five Corridors Project

FairSquare launches fair recruitment research project

In partnership with Open Societies Foundation and Humanity United, FairSquare Projects is embarking on a major research project on the fair recruitment of migrant workers.

The Five Corridors Project aims to enhance understanding of how governments can strengthen regulatory and enforcement mechanisms to address abusive and fraudulent recruitment practices, resulting in more positive outcomes for workers.

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