LONDON/DOHA: Complaints about the treatment of migrant workers in Qatar are “a dirty game” to discredit the country, according to a senior government minister in the Gulf state.
In an interview with Sky News, Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah, a former advisor to the Emir of Qatar and now president of the Administrative Control & Transparency Authority, said critics had “a heightened agenda”.
This followed steady pressure on Qatar from human rights groups and trade unions over the treatment of migrant labourers. Almost 1,000 workers from Nepal, India and Bangladesh died in 2012 and 2013 according to government statistics.
Concerns have been raised that many more could die as construction on 2022 World Cup facilities accelerates.
However Al-Attiyah said: “I think this is a big trick. People start talking about human rights, they just have a heightened agenda and they just try and use it against Qatar. This is what I call the dirty game.
“What of the human rights in Israel? What of the human rights in Europe? What about human rights in America? Why are you just talking about a small country trying to create a scapegoat and try to blame it just as human rights?
“I believe we have a lot of nationalities who work in Qatar who save their family and their own home. We create millions of jobs for people who come . . . no-one forced them.”
The government and Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee – responsible for organising the World Cup finals – have both insisted they are committed to measures to improve worker safety.
A code of conduct for companies tendering for World Cup contracts worth an estimated £100m includes accepting to audits of workers’ conditions and guarantees on pay.
The standards do not apply, however, to general infrastructure projects.