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December 7, 2016

Report highlights the construction sector’s lack of response on migrant rights in Qatar and the UAE

Over the past year and with the support of Humanity United, the Business and Human Rights Resource Center (BHRRC) worked to better understand how construction and engineering companies approach migrant workers’ rights in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). BHRRC reached out to 100 construction and engineering companies through a survey, looking at areas critical to migrant workers including recruitment, freedom of movement, worker voice and supply chain accountability. On Monday, BHRRC released the results of this work, calling out a “shocking” lack of transparency within the construction sector on policies and practices concerning migrant workers’ rights in Qatar and the UAE.

Only 22 companies out of the 100 responded to BHRRC’s survey, despite international attention on the poor working and living conditions of migrant workers in both countries. Among those who did not respond are companies involved in the construction of World Cup stadiums, including Al Balagh Trading & Contracting, Cimolai, Galfar Al Misnad, HBK Contracting Company, J&P Avax SA, Joannou & Paraskevaides (Overseas), Midmac and Porr. This represents “a missed opportunity to demonstrate the actions [companies] are taking to adhere to the Workers’ Welfare Standards of Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy”.

Those that did respond demonstrated “a wide gulf of understanding and commitment” between a few leading companies and the rest. Continued efforts are needed to press companies for increased public disclosure of their policies and practices towards migrant workers. Engagement with BHRRC’s survey is a concrete first step towards greater transparency and accountability. In addition, civil society and business actors need to press companies on their effective implementation of these policies, including rewarding those demonstrating promising practices.

Humanity United is proud to support efforts to bring more transparency to this sector. Read the whole report here.

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