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Report/Press release

The State of the World's Human Rights: Amnesty International Report 2014/2015




Amnesty International Canada


Migrant workers fuelled the economies of many states across the region, not least in the oil and gas-rich states of the Gulf, where they performed vital roles in construction and other industries and in the service sector. Despite their importance to local economies, in most states migrant workers remained inadequately protected under local labour laws and were subject to exploitation and abuse. Qatar’s selection to host the football World Cup in 2022 ensured that its of cial policies and practices in relation to the workers it hired
to build new stadiums and other facilities remained under scrutiny, and the government made promises of reform in response to pressure. Nevertheless, in Qatar as in other Gulf states, the sponsorship, or kafala, system used to recruit migrant workers and regulate their employment facilitated rights abuses that were exacerbated by a common absence of of cial enforcement measures to uphold migrants’ rights. Many migrant workers in
the region were required by employers to work excessive hours without rest or days off, and were prevented by threat of arrest and deportation from leaving abusive employers.
Perhaps most vulnerable of all were the many thousands of women from Asia, in particular, who were employed as domestic workers, and could be subjected to physical or other abuse, including sexual abuse as well as other forms of labour abuse without any or adequate means of remedy. The Saudi Arabian authorities engaged in mass expulsions of “surplus” migrant workers
to Yemen and other countries, often after rst detaining them in harsh conditions. Elsewhere, in countries such as Libya where lawlessness prevailed, migrant workers faced discrimination and other abuses, including violence and armed robbery at checkpoints, roadblocks and on the streets.
Thousands of people, many of them prey to human traf ckers and people smugglers, sought to escape and make new lives for themselves by boarding often overcrowded and unseaworthy vessels to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Some made it to Europe; others were pulled from the sea by the Italian navy, and at least 3,000 were reported to have drowned.

Responsible institution

Amnesty International

File Attachments



Abuse, discrimination

Economic sectors

General relevance - all sectors

Content types

Policy analysis, Documented cases of abuse, and Systemic/state violation of right/freedom

Target groups

Public awareness

Geographical focuses

International Organizations