“Criticizing your boss is already complicated, so for those who are exploited by … / Mondial 2022 / Documentaire / SOFOOT.com

The kick-off of the World Cup in Qatar is approaching, while the issue of the rights of migrant workers is still at the center of concerns. Committed since 2010 and the grant of the Gulf State tournament, Amnesty International published a documentary this week, The Exploitation of Qatar, based on testimonials from workers collected on the site. Arnaud Constant, co-director with Nicolas Thomas and Lola Schulmann, advocacy officer within the NGO, detailed their approach and hoped for commitments from competent authorities on the subject.

The subject of your documentary is clearly powerful. What main limitations did you encounter?
Arnaud Constant: We are used to talking about the human rights violations of the victims, except that we usually deal with people who are used to talking. Here, we are talking about employees, workers. Talking to them is complicated, at the risk of offending their boss. For us French, it can be complicated to criticize your boss, so for the exploited workers in Qatar, even more so. In addition, the concern is also knowing how to demonstrate and illustrate these testimonies. We have a double restriction on displaying people’s numbers without identifying them. So this selection of drawings and animations.

“The concern is how to demonstrate and illustrate these testimonies. We have a double restriction on displaying people’s numbers without identifying them. So this selection of drawings and animations. » Arnaud Constant

How can you successfully distance yourself from these very strong testimonies?
AC: Once, while we base ourselves on the testimonials that our researchers have already done, we would say that it is not very strong to listen to. In general, in all our productions, at Amnesty we have a psychological follow-up that we can ask for when we feel that it will be too difficult.
How did Amnesty International handle the intervention in Qatar?
Grandma Schulmann: We have been active in Qatar especially since 2010, when the country was named the host country of the World Cup. We do investigative and research work that involves going into the field. We have researchers who regularly go there and talk to the workers, the Qatari authorities, but also FIFA who, as an organizer, has responsibility regarding the violations of the country’s rights. This is an important job, gathering information and evidence to make recommendations to various authorities.

To what extent has the media attention linked to the World Cup contributed to the development of the human rights issue in Qatar?
LS: This is an opportunity to shine the spotlight on what has been criticized for years. There are improvements, but we are far from the mark about 60 days before the World Cup. We still have workers caught in the cycle of exploitation, some working 84 hours a week, no day off, some having their passports confiscated or some without pay for months. We have made a lot of progress, especially in eliminating the kafala system. The problem is the gap between these legislative developments and the implementation in the lives of workers, in their daily lives.

“It is a challenge for us to maintain this pressure on the State of Qatar after the World Cup and show that we do not neglect migrant workers. » Grandma Schulman

In the documentary, you mentioned the increase from 1.1 million migrant workers in 2010 to 2.2 million today. How will this number improve once the World Cup is over?
LS: We have seen a sharp increase in the number of migrant workers in Qatar, especially for the construction of various infrastructures, stadiums, hotels, metros, etc. What we are seeing now is that some workers have been sent home because they no longer have jobs. The question will really arise after the World Cup, from the moment we are no longer in this spotlight which also allows us to maintain pressure on the State of Qatar. It is also a challenge for us to maintain this pressure and show that we are not neglecting migrant workers.

One of the most chilling passages of the documentary has to do with the question of the deaths of migrant workers on construction sites. Are families never followed? The Qatari State does not justify the death of construction sites?
LS: The problem we see is that there are often deaths that remain unknown because on the death certificates, there is written “unknown cause” or “respiratory problem”, even though the person is in very good condition. health. No responsibility was acknowledged on the part of the Qatari government and no connection was made between working conditions and human deaths. Because of this, the family did not receive any compensation and for others, they still had to take out loans to repatriate the body of their loved one.
AC: What is interesting about the testimonials is that we are talking about people who are in good health, but relatively young. We will talk about heart attacks for people who are 30 or 40 years old.

“We want to emphasize this clear difference between the position of the FFF image and the situation of the site. » Arnaud Constant

Going back to the World Cup, have you had discussions with the various football federations going to Qatar, and especially the FFF?
LS: We have released a petition asking the Federation to speak publicly. Despite our alerts and the appointment we got in April, the situation has not improved. The FFF does not want to speak publicly about the human rights issue in Qatar, even though there is a real stake in doing so. He has a responsibility as a member of FIFA, but also because he will go to Qatar and therefore use all the infrastructure.
AC : In the documentary, we want to emphasize this clear difference between the position of the FFF picture and the situation of the site. You have many testimonies of human rights violations, and at the same time the FFF published this video on its YouTube account welcoming the facilities, without mentioning the fate of migrant workers or staff.

During the World Cup, how does Amnesty plan to intervene immediately?
LS: Let’s continue our alert role. We know that from November 20 and the start of the tournament, it will be complicated to talk about human rights issues. So the urgency is for us to act now to have a real commitment from FIFA and, at the French level, from the FFF.

Interview with Tom Binet
For more: read the article “The Coffins of Shame” in issue 189 of communitiesnow on newsstands.

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