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Rights Workers Want Transparency in Qatar Labor Recruitment

A foreign worker climbs scaffolding at the Al-Wakra Stadium that is under construction for the 2022 World Cup in Doha, Qatar, May 4, 2015.

Human rights activists are calling for more transparency in any potential agreement to send Cambodian workers to Qatar.

Qatar has been heavily criticized for rights abuses among laborers in the construction of stadiums and other facilities in preparation for the 2022 World Cup, but recruitment agencies have said they are hoping to open a route there for Cambodian workers.

Dy Thehovia, a program officer at the Community Legal Education Center, told VOA Khmer that the Ministry of Labor has not been forthcoming with information on whether it will allow such migration.

Some companies have said they will receive licenses, even as other Cambodian officials deny workers will be allowed to go to Qatar, he said.

For example, KCTC Manpower Supply Co., a Korean-owned company, received a license from the Cambodian government in August 2014 to recruit Cambodian laborers to work in Qatar and Kuwait. It is now receiving job applications from Cambodians to work there.

Dy Thehovia warned that Cambodian laborers could be exposed to serious abuse there without protection, much as workers in Thailand and Malaysia have faced. Without legal protections for them, the program should be suspended, he said.

Am Sam Ath, monitoring supervisor for the rights group Licadho, urged the Cambodian government to make public any agreement it has signed with Qatar for the migration of laborers. There must also be mechanisms in place to protect workers, he said.

In February, Uch Borith, secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs met with Mohamed Bin Abdulla Al-Rumaihi, assistant of Qatar’s Foreign Affairs Minister, to discuss sending laborers there. Few details have since been publicly available on an agreement.

Hem Bunny, director of the Ministry of Labor’s manpower and labor department, declined to comment on any potential deal with Qatar, referring questions to a spokesman who is currently abroad. “I worked on this issue for the Ministry of Labor already,” he said.