DOHA: Qatar’s 2022 World Cup organisers have insisted they are on the same side as the human rights organisation which is demanding that the Gulf state bring its labour rights up to the highest international standards.

Earlier this week New York-based Human Rights Watch published a 152-page report full of scathing criticisms of the conditions imposed on immigrant workers, mostly Asians in the construction industry.

It cautioned that it would encourage international labour organisations to recommend a boycott of the multi-zillion projects being undertaken by the country in general and for the World Cup in particular.

A positive response has come from the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee which has insisted that it always saw the World Cup “as a catalyst for positive change in Qatar with regard to a variety of issues, including migrant workers’ rights.”

A statement added: “The points and recommendations raised in Human Rights Watch’s report correspond with our strategic vision and are received with the utmost seriousness and consideration.

“Since we were awarded the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup we have considered the issue of labour rights in Qatar as one of our key priorities, ensuring from the outset that the issue is an integral part of our legacy framework.

“Ensuring international standards for workers’ rights and conditions has and will continue to be at the forefront of our committee’s strategic planning and implementation.”

This issue, however, is one of number – including fan behaviour, alcohol provision etc – on which the progressive attitudes of the World Cup organisers are not necesarily always in tune with other sectors of society in Qatar but among certain neighbouring states.

The latter, in particular, view with the concern the prospect of progressive change in standards of employment contracts.

The statement added: “We are fully committed to ensuring that preventative measures are in place to safeguard workers ahead of all construction projects directly relating to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

“We welcome an open dialogue with Human Rights Watch and confirm our offer of a meeting. We also extend this offer to Human Rights Watch for continuous dialogue in the future in order to discuss and chart progress on those issues regarding labour in relation to World Cup related construction projects.

“We will continue to work closely with government departments – the Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Interior and the Human Rights Bureau at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – and other relevant stakeholders, including independent organisations such as Human Rights Watch, to ensure all workers in Qatar are treated with dignity and respect and are provided with a safe and secure working environment.”

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