UN expert warns of “widespread” racial profiling in Qatar

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Foreign workers in Qatar face discrimination because of their nationality and national origin and suffer from “widespread stereotyping” of racial and ethnic origin, a UN expert said.

The Gulf state has seen an influx of foreign workers, especially from poor developing countries, in preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which means that 90% of the population of Qatar is non-Qatari.

“The enjoyment of human rights by many in Qatar is largely influenced by their national origin and nationality,” Tendai Ashyum, the special rapporteur on discrimination, told AFP.

Foreign workers are often hired to do certain jobs so that women from Southeast Asia usually work as domestic servants, while men from South Asia work in unskilled construction, she said.

“Many low-income workers spend a large part of their working life in Qatar, and in the process they face serious obstacles to the full enjoyment of basic human rights.”

Very few foreign workers qualify for permanent residency, and none receive the nationality and social benefits of Qataris.

The special rapporteurs are part of the so-called special procedures of the Human Rights Council and do not speak on behalf of the United Nations, but the results of their investigations may be used by other UN organizations, including the Human Rights Council.

Ashium will submit her final report on her visit to Qatar to the UN Human Rights Council in July 2020.

“Profiling is widespread in the private and public sectors,” she warned. “It is assumed that men from sub-Saharan Africa are not clean.

“People from North America, Europe and Australia are considered superior, and whites are generally more capable and efficient.”

However, although discrimination and racism remain a problem in Qatar, the authorities have acknowledged the problem and made efforts to improve the situation, unlike other countries.

“The existence of racial, ethnic, national and discriminatory structures … is partly the result of the history of slavery in Qatar,” she said.

Slavery was abolished in the Gulf state in 1952.

Ashyum, who is also a professor of law at the University of California Law School, said she had received reports of “widespread racial and ethnic profiling by police, traffic authorities and even by special security forces working in parks and shopping centers across the state.”

“Citizens of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are reportedly denied entry because of their appearance,” it said.

Ashiyom praised Qatar in light of “the significant reforms that the government has begun to implement in this regard and its important contributions to the fight against racial discrimination”.

But she said “a lot still needs to be done.”

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