IDWF & IUF letter to Francois Holland: Human rights and trade union rights in Qatar

1 July, 2014, IDWF & IUF | IDWF & IUF


On July 1, the IDWF joined the IUF in a letter to Francois Holland, the President of France to "draw his attention to the commitment of the French Republic with regard to respect for human rights and the fundamental conventions of the ILO and the United Nations by all Member States of these organizations, including Qatar. "
We are concerned that in the recent visit of the Emir of Qatar to France, the President merely talked about sale of military tools, ignoring the appalling record of human rights violations of migrant workers, including domestic workers in Qatar.

The IDWF launched a "Free Domestic Workers in Qatar" action on June 6 this year.  Its Executive Committee protested outside the UN in Geneva against the lack of legal protection of domestic workers in Qatar and to demand abolition of the KAFALA System.

Subject: Human rights and trade union rights in Qatar


The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Association (IUF) encompasses over 12 million workers in 383 trade union organizations in 125 countries.

For many years, the IUF has been supporting the campaign of domestic workers to be recognized by society in general and labour legislation in particular as fully-fledged workers. The adoption in 2011 by the International Labour Organization of the Domestic Workers Convention (No. 189) is a first step towards recognizing the fundamental rights too long denied several million women and men worldwide.

There are countries where the conditions of domestic workers are of particular concern. One such country is Qatar. In his report of 23 April 2014, the UN Special Rapporteur, François Crépeau (A/HRC/26/35/Add.1) observes that the system of "kafala" which links a work permit to a single employer is “a source of abuse and exploitation of migrants” which should be abolished. Immigrant domestic workers are in the majority of cases deprived of their passports by their employers and are often subject to physical and psychological pressure, acts of sexual harassment or even violence. If they flee, they run the risk of arrest and even greater mistreatment.

One of the UN Special Rapporteur’s recommendations is that Qatar should ratify Convention No. 87 concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize, Convention No. 98 concerning the Application of the Principles of the Right to Organize and to Bargain Collectively and Convention No. 189 concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers.

Given that you entertain good relations with the Emir of Qatar, we would be most grateful if you would draw his attention to the commitment of the French Republic with regard to respect for human rights and the fundamental conventions of the ILO and the United Nations by all Member States of these organizations, including Qatar.

We profoundly hope that you will accord this letter all the attention that it deserves, for the sake of the well-being and respect for the fundamental human rights of millions of women and men who are forced by certain unscrupulous employers to live in conditions akin to slavery.
We thank you in advance for keeping us informed of initiatives to advance in countries such as Qatar the concept of adherence to and respect for the fundamental principles enshrined in international conventions.

Yours sincerely,

Ron Oswald Elizabeth Tang
General Secretary General Secretary
IUF International Domestic Workers’ Federation (IDWF)


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