The Qatar Supreme Committee (SC) has criticised a report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) regarding the treatment of staff working on venues for the country’s hosting of the 2022 Fifa World Cup.
In the report, Human Rights Watch said workers at sites across Qatar were being subjected to potentially life-threatening levels of heat and humidity during the extreme summer conditions in the nation.
The HRW also accused authorities in Qatar of failing to make public information about working conditions, which has meant that the relevant organisations have not been able to carry out further investigations of the situation in the country.
“Enforcing appropriate restrictions on outdoor work and regularly investigating and publicising information about worker deaths is essential to protect the health and lives of construction workers in Qatar,” HRW Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson said according to The Guardian newspaper.
“Limiting work hours to safe temperatures, not set by a clock or calendar, is well within the capacity of the Qatari government and will help protect hundreds of thousands of workers.”
However, the SC has responded to the claims, saying in a statement that although it does “acknowledge the concerns” raised by HRW, it “whole-heartedly” refutes the suggestion that it as “abdicated responsibility” or failed to protect the lives of workers.
The statement said: “To date, there have been two work-related fatalities and nine non-work related deaths of workers engaged on our projects. The SC profoundly regrets the death of any worker, and we treat every incident with the utmost seriousness.
“However, the SC does not have the authority or mandate to determine cause of death, which is reflected in death certificates issued by the medical authorities in Qatar. HRW has received all information available from those death certificates.
“The role of the SC is to oversee health and safety on our sites and ensure our Workers’ Welfare Standards are implemented. The SC investigates all fatalities on SC sites to establish whether they could have been prevented and, if so, to identify improvements for the future.
“The SC has provided HRW with the information requested concerning the circumstances surrounding non-work related deaths on our projects.”
The SC added: “Our commitment to the health and safety of our workers will never diminish as we prepare to host a Fifa World Cup that will leave a true legacy for Qatar, the region and the rest of the world.”