DOHA: Qatar officials have confirmed the Gulf state is holding in detention two British researchers who had gone missing a week ago while investigating the conditions of Nepalese labourers.

The controversy over the treatment of migrant workers has prompted demands from relatives, international unions and human rights groups that Qatar should be stripped of the right to host the 2022 World Cup.

Krishna Upadhyaya and Ghimire Gundev, who worked for the Norweghian-based Global Network for Rights and Development, disappeared after complaining of harassment by the police.

After a week of uncertainty, a statement from Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the men were being investigated for “violating the law of the land” and that security forces had treated the men in accordance with international human rights law.

British consular officials had visited Upadhyaya and Gundev and checked on their wellbeing.

Upadhyaya and Gundev were working on a report on Nepalese migrant workers, according to a statement issued by Upadhyaya’s family.

Yuvraj Ghimire, the younger brother of Upadhyaya, said: “If Qatar wants to organise the World Cup, it should respect the human rights of people. If they don’t want to respect human rights, they should not hold these events.

“In my opinion they have been detained because they were working for the rights of labourers in Qatar. We have seen the situation of the people who work there; almost every day a Nepali dies. The Qatar government does not want this disclosed.”

The Ministry’s own statement said: “Krishna Upadhyaya and Ghimire Gundev, who were detained by the security authorities in Qatar on the August 31, are under investigation for violating the law of the land.

“Security services followed all the right procedures with the two men and that they were treated with humanity in detention in accordance to the international human rights law, in compliance with the Constitution and the federal laws in Qatar.”

Only this week senior government spokesmen insisted that preparations to ‘clean up’ the labour laws – including rebranding the controversial kafala system – would soon be announced.