Human rights groups appeal against Qatar ban on annual leave

Published:  6 Jul at 6 PM
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Tagged: USA, Australia, Euro
As the Qatar embargo drags on, the prevention of annual leave for millions of expats is being taken up as a human rights issue.

The Gulf Association for Rights and Freedoms has appealed to the Geneva-based United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the director-general of the International Labour Organisation on behalf of the 2.2 million expat workers in Qatar who have been banned from taking their annual leave. Over two million expats work in the emirate, with the majority from Asian countries, but the ban also involves thousands of high-ranking expat professionals. Most workers use their annual leave for visits to friends and family in their countries of origin.

According to the Gulf Association’s spokesperson Mohammed Hayef, the reason behind the appeal to human rights organisations is that the cancelled leave periods are likely to seriously affect the working conditions of the majority of migrant workers in the emirate. Consequences, he believes, could involve fatal work accidents due to tiredness, harsh working conditions or social and psychological conditions caused by having leave cancelled.

The appeal calls for intervention by the Human Rights High Commission and the International Labour Organisation in condemnation of the Qatar government’s decision, as it contradicts the two watchdogs’ conventions and violates workers’ human right to enjoy leave from work on an annual basis. As a member of the ’International Labour Organisation, Qatar is expected to comply with its human rights laws, it adds.

Meanwhile, human rights are in focus in Saudi Arabia as a rights group criticises Riyadh for charging Yemeni and Syrian refugees the same taxes on dependents recently imposed on expat professionals working in the kingdom. The Euro-Med monitoring group said Wednesday the non-exemption of refugees from the tax is sure to cause negative impacts on their lives and those of their children, as they have no means of subsistence after fleeing the wars in their home countries.
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