Qatar abolishes ‘kafala’ labor system

Qatari Labour Minister Issa bin Saad al-Jafali al-Nuaimi (R) and assistant director general of the Department of Border, Passport and Expatriates Affairs at the Labour ministry, Brigadier Mohammed Ahmed al-Atiq give a joint press conference to announce the end to Qatar's internationally condemned "kafala" sponsorship law for migrant workers, on Monday in Doha. (AFP)
Updated 13 December 2016
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Qatar abolishes ‘kafala’ labor system

DOHA: Qatar on Monday formally announced the end of its controversial “kafala” system, arguably the biggest ever labor reform undertaken by the 2022 football World Cup host nation. In a long-expected announcement, Labor Minister Issa bin Saad Al-Jafali Al-Nuaimi said the “kafala” rules would be abolished effective Dec. 13.
He said a contract-based system to govern the country’s 2.1 million foreign workers would take its place.
Under “kafala,” all foreign workers employed in Qatar require a local sponsor, in the form of an individual or company, and need their permission to switch jobs or leave the country.
“The new law is the latest step toward improving and protecting the rights of every expatriate worker in Qatar,” Nuaimi said.
“It replaces the kafala system with a modernized, contract-based system that safeguards workers’ rights and increases job flexibility.”
Freedom of movement is guaranteed under the new rules, said Qatari officials, including giving workers the right to change jobs.
Any workers mistreated will automatically be allowed to change jobs, said officials.
The exit visa formally needed to leave the country under “kafala” will be abolished, although workers will still need their employers’ permission to leave.
An appeals committee has been established for expats who are denied permission to leave, and that committee will begin work on Tuesday.
Employers who confiscate workers’ passports could be fined QR25,000 ($6,800, 6,400 euros), up from QR10,000 under “kafala.”
The new law should also offer greater contract protection, officials said.


Egypt arrests activist Hazem Abdel-Azim, former El-Sisi supporter

Updated 27 May 2018
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Egypt arrests activist Hazem Abdel-Azim, former El-Sisi supporter

  • Egyptian security officials say a prominent activist has been detained

CAIRO: Egyptian security officials say a prominent activist has been detained, the latest in a new wave of arrests since presidential elections earlier this year.
The officials say Hazem Abdel-Azim was taken from his home in a Cairo suburb late Saturday on accusations that include disseminating false news and belonging to an outlawed group.
Abdel-Azim has been known for his harsh criticism of the government since he left President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s campaign in the 2014 elections.
The officials spoke Sunday on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak to media.
Egypt has arrested a number of secular activists since El-Sisi was re-elected in March in a vote in which he faced no serious challengers.
The latest arrests come amid a wider crackdown on dissent in which thousands of people have been jailed.