19th Session of the Universal Periodic Review
U.S. Statement delivered by Chargé d’affaires Peter Mulrean
May 7, 2014
The United States welcomes the Qatari delegation.
We are encouraged by the Government’s steps toward hiring 150 labor inspectors since October 2013 and increasing migrants’ awareness of their rights. However, we are concerned that the restrictive kafala system, particularly the no-objection certificate and exit permit provisions, increase workers’ vulnerability to exploitation and human trafficking.
We urge continued efforts to prosecute those found violating the labor laws and to strengthen protections for workers’ rights such as ensuring that their salaries are paid on time and that their passports are not confiscated in violation of Qatari law.
We are concerned about the imprisonment of individuals simply for exercising their freedom of expression, as well as by media restrictions and censorship. While we welcome that the draft media law contains positive provisions, including the elimination of criminal penalties for libel, we have concerns that it does not respect freedom of expression.
We recommend that the Government of Qatar:
- Abolish or reform the restrictive sponsorship law, which drives potential labor exploitation and human trafficking; strengthen enforcement of the labor law; continue to increase awareness of human rights of migrant workers; and expand legal protections;
- Release all prisoners of conscience, including poet Mohammed al-Ajami, and respect the rights of all individuals to freedom of expression;
- Consider acceding to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and adopt a new media law that respects freedom of expression.